In one of the oldest tricks in the book, the Franks campaign has pushed some favorable (paid) polling in the public domain via CottonMouth. This is to give the appearance that the race is much closer than it actually is. It is pretty surprising that this tactic is being deployed this early.
Days before the Ross/Franks showdown, Ross insiders were pushing their own statewide polling that said that the race was “within the margin of error”. Bryant’s polling said 19. Bryant won by 17. I thought it would be a little closer (9-12), but the Bryant people had it nailed down pretty tight.
The numbers I have seen say that Bryant is substantially ahead (mid-teens), and that was done by the same pollster that nailed the Bryant/Ross race. The race will likely narrow a little as Franks, like Ross, first tries to get his name ID up and then blows his wad and lobs bombs and negative campaign tactics. But if Franks’ own polling numbers shows him only carrying 71% of the black vote right now (a demographic he has to OWN to make it even close), he is in huge trouble. If he doesn’t already have that vote, he will have to chase it and that might drive many rural whites away. At a minimum, he will have to run two very substantial internal campaigns.
Plus, the X factor in this race is that a very energized and well funded Haley Barbour will be at the top of this ticket and he will want to ensure Republican control of the Lt. Governor’s seat above all else. There will be a lot of campaign points saying that Franks/Eaves will be looking to resurrect the jackpot justice days and overturn tort reform.