Poll: Goodman leads Giunchigliani in Las Vegas mayor’s race

Carolyn Goodman still has a double-digit lead over Chris Giunchigliani in the Las Vegas mayoral race, according to a new poll, but hasn’t crossed the threshold to a solid majority yet.

The survey of 604 registered voters placed Goodman on top with 47.8 percent. Giunchigliani registered 30 percent support.

Eighteen percent were undecided, and the rest either responded with "other" or refused to answer.

"It bodes very well for Mrs. Goodman," said Pamela Gallion, director of UNLV’s Cannon Survey Center, which conducted the poll for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and 8NewsNow.

Among those who plan to vote or have already voted, Goodman had 50.2 percent support to Giunchigliani’s 32.6 percent, with 14 percent undecided.

The results also broke out likely voters, those who voted in the April primary. In that group, Goodman led with 48.2 percent over Giunchigliani’s 34.1 percent, with 12.9 percent not sure.

"These numbers are consistent with our internal polling," said Bradley Mayer, Goodman’s campaign manager. "That’s really all there is to say."

Giunchigliani’s campaign, though, said the poll has fatal flaws.

Respondents were registered voters who were interviewed between May 26 and Thursday, with two days off for the Memorial Day holiday. The 604 interviews came from 4,969 call attempts.

The resulting sample does not match the characteristics of the electorate that is likely to participate in the election, said Gary Gray, Giunchigliani’s campaign manager. Early voting ends today, and the general election is Tuesday.

"Nice try. But you’re asking the wrong group," Gray said.

Poll results indicated that about half of respondents voted in the primary. Those voters actually will make up 70 percent to 80 percent of the general election participation, he predicted. The ethnic breakdown is also skewed, he said, because white voters tend to show up in city elections while Hispanic voters tend not to use their clout.

The poll also "seriously undersamples" voters 65 and older, who made up 19.8 percent of the polling sample, he said.

"I’m willing to bet you a hamburger and a shake that after this election you’ll find the 65 and over will be double that," Gray said.

"This does not mirror what our experience has been over 20 years in city elections and does not mirror the distribution of votes in the primary. I think the number will be closer, and I think the undecided is maybe half of what you have."

Gallion said the strongest result in the poll is most likely the one that breaks out respondents who voted in the primary. In that group, Goodman still had a 14-point lead with 12.9 percent undecided.

"These people are known to be voters. They voted in the primary," Gallion said. "Chances are, if they voted in the primary, they will vote in this election.

"She’s (Giunchigliani) not going to get all the undecideds."

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Goodman and Giunchigliani finished first and second in the April primary out of a field of 18 candidates who filed for the open seat.

Goodman had a strong lead in that vote, getting 37 percent support. Giunchigliani had 17 percent of the vote and barely edged out competitor and fellow County Commissioner Larry Brown, beating him by 15 votes.

Since then, Goodman and Giunchigliani have sparred over jobs, the housing crisis, business recruitment, and who best can remake Las Vegas government in the post-boom era.

Giunchigliani argues her experience as a teacher, legislator and county commissioner has prepared her for the intricacies of governing.

Goodman touted her experience founding and running the Meadows School and her connections, via her husband, Mayor Oscar Goodman, to all that has happened in Las Vegas during the past 12 years he has been in office.

Goodman also mounted a prodigious fundraising effort. She pulled in more than $1.4 million since January. Giunchigliani collected almost $1.2 million, but $425,000 of that total was an infusion from her 2010 County Commission campaign war chest.

The campaigns have done their own polling, which showed conflicting results and conformed to what the respective candidates would like to be true.

A poll Giunchigliani’s campaign released showed the candidates neck-and-neck in the mid-40 percent range. Goodman’s internal polls, meanwhile, found her with a solid majority and comfortably in the lead.

The new mayor will be paid about $130,000 a year.

Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

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