Sherman releases poll showing early lead; “Dewey beats Truman,” counters Berman

The 2012 congressional race between Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Howard Berman, the two long-standing Jewish Democratic incumbents both laying claim to the heavily Democratic (and mostly white) 30th Congressional district in the West San Fernando Valley, has officially begun.

On Monday, Sherman released the results of a poll showing that he would beat Berman in a head-to-head race and in a three-way race.

“Berman is largely unknown, even in his own district,” wrote Sherman campaign consultant Parke Skelton in an email about the poll results on Tuesday. “While Brad leads Berman 52 [percent] to 9 [percent] in his old district (CD27), Berman leads Brad by just 2% in his old district – CD28 (32 to 30).”

D.C.-based pollster Diane Feldman conducted the survey among 600 likely general election voters in the new district. According to Skelton, the poll showed Sherman leads Berman among Democrats, Republicans and voters who decline to state a party affiliation. Among Jews, Skelton wrote in his email, Sherman leads Berman 46 percent to 21 percent in the new district.

Berman responded to the poll’s results in a statement, emailed to the Jewish Journal by spokeswoman Gabby Adler:

Releasing a privately paid for poll to repeat his campaign talking point that Sherman, because he currently represents much more of the 30th [Congressional District], starts out ahead, is a typical politician’s tactic. Of course, Sherman starts out ahead.

But after a campaign—by both sides—that fully informs the electorate of each candidate’s accomplishments and each candidate’s supporters, I am confident that this poll will find its way into the old poll dustbin—Dean beats Kerry in Iowa [in 2004], Bush the Elder beats all Democrats in 1992, Dewey beats Truman in 1948.

Let the campaign begin.

Or perhaps it already has. After all, Sherman circulated a lengthy list of his supporters—which included Bill Clinton—on Aug. 5. Rick Orlov reported in the Daily News on Aug. 14 that that Galpin Ford owners Bert and Jane Boeckmann were backing Berman. (“Mr. And Mrs. L.A. Republican,” Orlov called them.) And on Aug. 19, LA Observed reported that Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen sent out invitations to Berman’s biennial fundraiser, an event that is held at the Beverly Hilton and typically nets over $1 million in one night. 

So what’s the significance of this poll?

According to Sherman pollster Diane Feldman, it shows that, “Sherman is simply better known and more popular in this San Fernando Valley district and voters want his visible, local style of representation.” (Part of that local style is the eight-term incumbent’s August recess town hall meeting, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 28.)

But even Berman’s statement appears to be a slight change of course for the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He contested the significance of the poll’s results—but Berman, for the first time, said that the race for the newly drawn 30th district is on.

Stay tuned.