Republican Pedro Celis' campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1) is hurting—Celis gave vague answers about budget policy in a recent debate and got called on it by hosts at KIRO radio two days running. (The second round of criticism came from KIRO's Republican talk jocks Todd Herman and Chris Widener, one of whom declared he was getting rid of his "Pedro for Congress" t-shirt.)

Celis is trying to rev up some positive news this week from a poll (done by GOP pollster Moore Information) that found DelBene leading by nine points, 43-34—good news for DelBene, who won last time in the swing district by just seven points.

How does the Celis campaign divine good news from the numbers? They note that "among voters who are aware of both candidates, Celis actually leads 47-41." 

That name-recognition stat raises a key question, though: What is the makeup of the people that actually know who both candidates are? Given Celis' low name identification overall (according to the Moore poll, it's at 43 percent in a poll where Democrats outnumbered Republicans 46 to 42 ), it's likely that the batch of voters who know both candidates skews Republican; Celis just came through a Republican primary. 

Celis tried to rev up some positive news this week from a poll that found Delbene leading by nine points, 43-34.

I put that question directly to the campaign, but they merely sent me the pollster memo. 

That memo says only 47 percent of the Republicans they talked to knew who Celis was. However, given the other stats—that Celis leads in their poll among Republicans 75-10 and among independents 34-28—they believe he "will be well positioned to win in November." They're banking on the fact that 19 percent of voters were undecided. 

Two things: The case for Celis in the pollster memo points out a 49-36 percent disapproval rating for Obama in the poll, and that 51 percent of "'undecided' voters said they want a 'check and balance' to the "Obama/Pelosi agenda." The problem is, DelBene's signature issue has been her fight against  the Obama administration on NSA surveillance.

(And sorry, Moore's stat is a bit of a chimera: Anyone who still bites at the dated "Obama/Pelosi" framing is going to vote for the Republican regardless.)

Second, judging from the Republicans who have actually gotten to know Celis—Herman and Widener, the talk jocks at KIRO, for example—Celis didn't go over so well. 

Bottom line: 43-34 DelBene is more bad news for Celis with three weeks to go. 

The pollsters talked to 301 likely general election voters (by land line and cell). The margin of error is plus or minus 6 percent. 



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