Democratic Challenger in a Tight Race with GOP Incumbent in California’s 50th Congressional District


Ben Tulchin and Ron Eckstein
Nick Leibham, Democratic Candidate CA-50

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Executive Summary

A building Democratic wave is about to hit San Diego beaches. The campaign of former prosecutor Nick Leibham is surging, and Leibham is now in a statistical dead heat with incumbent Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray, 42 to 44 percent.

Key Findings

Leibham launched an extremely effective and aggressive mail and television advertising blitz against Bilbray that features a four-star general criticizing Bilbray's vote against the G.I. Bill. As a result, Leibham has pulled into a statistical tie with the incumbent (42 to 44 percent) after trailing by 19 points (35 to 54 percent) as recently as August.

Barack Obama is also running strong in California’s 50th Congressional District, leading John McCain by double digits (53 to 41 percent). The environment is now ripe for Democratic victories in a district George W. Bush won by 11 points - twice. Concerns about the economy dominate the political landscape, President Bush is more unpopular than ever, and five out of six voters think the country is off on the wrong track.

Leibham’s strong position is due to his appeal beyond Democratic base voters. He currently wins four out of five (79 percent) Democrats, while Bilbray wins three out of four (75 percent) of Republicans. The biggest difference, however, is that Leibham holds a 16-point advantage among voters not aligned with either party (48 to 32 percent)

Methodology

This survey was conducted by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, on behalf of the Nick Leibham for Congress. It surveyed 400 respondents between October 13-14, 2008. These voters were determined likely to vote in November 2008 based on their past voting history. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.