Latest poll shows Flowers, Bonini one point apart in treasurer’s race

By ADAM TAYLOR — The News Journal

The polls show and the pundits agree that Delaware’s contest for state treasurer is too close to call. The latest poll shows 42 percent of voters prefer Democrat Chip Flowers, while 41 percent expect to vote for Republican Colin Bonini. Of the 797 likely voters polled, 17 percent said they were undecided.

The poll, conducted Oct. 20-26 by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind research group, has a 3.5 percent margin of error.

PublicMind also polled voters on the same race earlier in the month. The results at that time were 38 percent for each candidate, with 21 percent undecided.

Both candidates said they viewed the latest poll as good news.

“It’s basically tied,” Bonini said. “Considering there are 110,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Delaware and some of the other Republican candidates aren’t doing nearly as well as we are in the polls, I’m pleased with the new results and think it’s a good sign for us.”

Flowers emphasized that his numbers grew by 3 percentage points since the last poll.

“I think the poll shows our message of a bold plan and a bright future for the treasurer’s office is resonating with voters,” he said. “However, we cannot take a single vote for granted over the next few days. We need to make sure we’re going to secure victory.”

Peter Wooley, a Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor who directed the poll, said the victor will be decided by who comes out to vote. Wooley said most voters will go to the polls to vote in the U.S. Senate and House races.

“After that they start guessing,” he said. “Or they might not vote in the races further down the ballot at all, which is a universal phenomenon known as ‘dropoff.’ When you get to the races for jobs they don’t really understand or don’t really know what the issues are, you’re more likely to say, ‘I’m done.'”

Republican strategist Don Mell said the race will likely be decided by independent voters who are undecided. Of the undecided voters polled 36 percent were independents, more than twice the amount of Republican and Democrats who said they didn’t know for whom they were going to vote.

Mell said none of the four candidates at the top of the ticket has coattails that will help those in the lower races.

“I think Bonini has the edge at the end of the day,” Mell said. “Chip wasn’t the endorsed Democratic candidate, so he might not have that Democratic voter base. Even though the O’Donnell voters aren’t passionate for anyone except O’Donnell, I think the higher turnout for her in Kent County could help Colin, because he’s from Kent.”

Former Democratic national committeeman Rhett Ruggerio, who has directed campaigns for state legislative candidates in the past, thinks incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Castle’s absence from the ballot will hurt Bonini. O’Donnell upset Castle in the September GOP primary.

“A lot of moderate Republicans might not vote without Castle at the top of the ticket,” he said. “That hurts all the Republican candidates for statewide races. The tea party people are high-performing activist voters who would have voted no matter what, but a lot of other Republicans could just stay home.”