Runoff elections are unpredictable and about the only thing you can expect in them is the unexpected. A week after running nine points behind Elaine Marshall in the primary, Cal Cunningham is now knotted up with her 36-36 in PPP's first poll of the runoff.
How is that possible? It's an intensity issue. Our polling before the primary found that Cunningham's supporters were more committed to him than Marshall's were to her, and that could make a big difference in what's likely to be a very low turnout runoff. More energized voters are leaning toward Cunningham. Among respondents on this poll who reported being 'very excited' about voting this fall Cunningham led 46-31. Marshall ties it overall because of a 42-31 lead with 'somewhat excited' voters and a 28-18 one with 'not very excited' voters.
Last week's results showed that Marshall has more support than Cunningham, but whether that translates into those voters caring enough about her to come back in June is something we really won't know the answer to until the results are in. The question for both Marshall and Cunningham is how many of the people who came out last week were drawn by the US Senate race and how many of them were drawn by a Sheriff/District Attorney/County Commissioner/other local race? This first poll suggests that Marshall may have drawn more of her support from that latter group, and that it won't necessarily translate to those folks being there for her again next month.
There are more clear divisions along demographic lines in the runoff than we saw in the polling for the primary. Cunningham is up 43-32 with whites, while Marshall has a 44-22 advantage with African Americans. Cunningham is up 47-37 with men, while Marshall is up 35-29 with women. Marshall's up 40-35 with liberals, Cunningham's up 38-25 with conservatives, and the candidates are tied at 37 with moderates.
With a lot of voters undecided and the unpredictable nature of determining who will vote in runoffs it's hard to say what will happen in this race. The biggest takeaway from the poll is that Cunningham is still in it.
Full results here