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Poll: mayoral race even

Kurtis Alexander
Sunday September 29, 2002

Berkeley mayor Shirley Dean and challenger Tom Bates, a former state Assemblyman, are within a few percentage points in the race for voter support, according to a poll commissioned by the mayor’s office. 

Oakland-based pollster Lake Snell Perry and Associates found that Dean leads Bates 41 percent to 38 percent in the mayoral contest with 19 percent of the 400-person sample undecided. The survey’s margin of error was 4.9 percent. 

“I feel pretty good about the results,” said Dean. “We knew it was going to be a close race from the very beginning.” 

In addition to identifying a virtually dead-even contest, Perry and Associates found 58 percent of those polled think the city is “heading in the right direction.” Twenty-six percent believe the city is “on the wrong track,” pollsters found. 

“That’s the most important number in the whole poll,” said Dean. “People are happy with the way the city is being run and that’s what will make up their minds in the election.” 

Tom Bates’ campaign manager Larry Tramutola dismissed this week’s poll as campaign rhetoric. 

“It’s rare for a campaign to release a poll unless they’ve got problems,” Tramutola said, noting that polls are normally used internally to make strategic decisions. He suggested that the mayor is having difficulty raising money and the poll is being used to re-establish credibility for her campaign. 

The Bates’ camp has raised roughly $100,000, according to Tramutola. Dean officials say they have at least that much money. 

“We’re real excited about the pace of contributions,” said Dean’s campaign manager Brian Schwartz. 

Tramutola, who was not convinced of the accuracy of this week’s poll, said the poll was likely successful in revealing the high number of undecided voters, which he said works in favor of Bates. 

“Dean’s been in office for eight years. ... Those that are still undecided are going to vote for Bates,” he said. 

Tramutola added that he has commissioned polls as well. He would not provide specific results, but suggested that the race was close and Bates is likely slightly ahead.