Newberry leads Gray by 13 points in Lexington mayor's race, cn|2 poll shows

08/25/2010 06:09 PM

LEXINGTON — Mayor Jim Newberry starts his re-election bid this fall with a double-digit lead over Vice Mayor Jim Gray, although a fifth of likely voters surveyed say they haven’t made a decision yet, the cn|2 Poll shows.

The cn|2 Poll of 503 likely voters in Fayette County reflected that 45.5% plan to vote for Newberry while 32.4% say they will support Gray.  Another 20.5% said they are undecided.

The survey was conducted by live interviewers from Braun Research, Inc. of Princeton, N.J., between Aug. 23 and 24. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points. Click here to view the details and cross-tabs of the questions related to the city government and mayor’s race.

The main reason for such high undecideds, both campaigns said, is that neither of the candidates has begun running TV ads. Newberry said he doesn’t plan to air any until September.

Newberry said he was pleased by the results. Here’s his response to a question about the poll:

Gray was unavailable for comment. But his campaign manager, Jamie Emmons, said internal polling showed the race nearly tied with about 20 percent undecided.

He said the difference between the campaign’s poll, taken by the Mellman Group, and the cn|2 Poll was that the Mellman Group surveyed those who historically vote from the list of voters. The cn|2 Poll contacts people using random digit dialing and uses questions to screen for those who are likely to vote in November.

“So I think some of the people you may have polled may not actually vote in November,” Emmons said.

But he said, regardless of the results of the head-to-head question, Gray has more than enough time to make a run.

“If elections were decided in August, Hillary Clinton would have been the Democratic nominee for president,” Emmons said.

Emmons also noted that more respondents were uncertain about Gray, based on the job approval ratings. Here’s what he said:

Here are the full results on the approval ratings of both Newberry and Jim Gray:

Q. What is your opinion of the job Mayor Jim Newberry is doing?

  • 15.1% strongly approve
  • 51.6% somewhat approve
  • 16.2% somewhat disapprove
  • 7.5% strongly disapprove
  • 8.9% don’t know

Q. What is your opinion of the job Vice Mayor Jim Gray is doing?

  • 13.6% strongly approve
  • 45.7% somewhat approve
  • 14.5% somewhat disapprove
  • 4.6% strongly disapprove
  • 20.8% don’t know

In the non-partisan Lexington mayor’s race, the two candidates roughly split the votes among Democrats. Newberry held a decisive lead over Gray with Republicans, with 49% compared to about 28% for Gray.

The breakdown by political ideology showed a similar theme, with Newberry gaining an advantage among conservatives and Gray showing an edge among liberals.

Liberal            Moderate             Conservative

Newberry            36.1%                        52.6%                        49.2%

Gray                        44.5%                        29.6%                        25.4%

The biggest issue of the election cycle across Kentucky has been the economy and job creation, previous cn|2 Polls have shown. This survey asked Fayette County’s likely voters which issue aside from the economy and unemployment is the most pressing facing Lexington. Here are the results:

  • 25.8% traffic and road construction
  • 21.8% government accountability
  • 16.1% development, zoning and preservation
  • 15.3% water supply
  • 7.6% the World Equestrian Games
  • 2.2% CentrePointe
  • 6.2% some other issue

Emmons said concern over issues, such as traffic, development and government accountability, should favor Gray. Specifically, Emmons pointed to the reworking of infrastructure along South Limestone that kept a stretch of the road closed for nearly a year:

Newberry, meanwhile, acknowledged that traffic issues remain a “huge concern” but touts the South Limestone development as a successful improvement:

Check back Thursday for more results from cn|2’s Lexington poll.

- Ryan Alessi with video produced by Greg Pursifull

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