A new poll (PDF) released by Commissioner Amanda Fritz today offered some more good news in her bid to fend off a challenge from her much-better-funded opponent, State Representative Mary Nolan. According to the telephone survey of 402 likely voters, conducted earlier this month, Fritz has a 34-point lead over Nolan—eight points larger than in a similar poll conducted last fall.
But the same caveats remain: Almost half of the respondents said they were undecided, also just like last fall. And Nolan, with friends in high places, has a gigantic war chest at her disposal and can vastly outspend Fritz on TV ads and mailers and muster a most efficient get-out-the-vote operation this May.
This all points to a long slog into November. Fritz, with whatever power incumbency bestows, seems strong enough to keep Nolan from stunning her with an outright victory in May; Nolan would improbably have to snag three out of four undecided voters in less than two months. But Nolan has enough money—and volunteers, thanks to her heavyweight union endorsements—to slowly but surely chip away at Fritz until November.
Update 1:25 PM: Upon further review, I'm less certain about a November scenario. Because that would also require the other candidates in the race to outperform their current polling, too. (They had just 3 percent or so.) And it also doesn't account for the fact that some undecided folks will skip the thing altogether, shrinking the overall pool of voters that Nolan can siphon from. So can Nolan sell herself to the voters and simultaneously start whacking at Fritz all in the next several weeks? We'll see.
Update 3:10 PM: The O talked to Nolan's campaign manager, who wouldn't give out any of their own polling but said the numbers released by Fritz don't line up with what they're seeing. She also suggested the poll was similar to a "push" poll and that Fritz was "pretty desperate" for releasing it.