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September 10, 2008

NRCC Polls GOP-Held Districts

The National Republican Congressional Committee is tipping its hand by commissioning polls in four GOP-held seats, according to filings made yesterday with the Federal Election Commission. The committee is paying for research in two districts in which the incumbent is retiring and two districts in which a member is running for re-election.

Republican Reps. Bill Sali and Phil English should not be in electoral trouble, but both districts are being surveyed by the NRCC. Sali won his Idaho district by just five points in 2006, but President Bush won the Panhandle-based seat with 69% of the vote in 2004. Democrats have already reserved air time and sent mail to voters backing their candidate, businessman Walt Minnick.

English is in a much more marginal district that gave the President just a six-point win in 2004, but English has won with more than 60% of the vote in four of his seven terms. In 2006, he beat his rival by a 54%-42% margin, though this year Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper is giving him a scare.

Two open seats are getting polled as well. Rep. Jim Saxton's retirement is giving Democrats an excellent shot at winning an additional seat in New Jersey, while Rep. Terry Everett's decision to forgo another term gave Democrats the chance to recruit Montgomery, Alabama Mayor Bobby Bright.

Polling isn't cheap, and the cash-strapped committee is shelling out a total of more than $57,000 for the four surveys. That's money that the party could be spending on advertising, mail or other candidate advocacy.