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Internal Poll Shows Kissell With Strong Lead Over GOP Challenger

LOCUST, N.C. — As Rep. Larry Kissell (D) spent Thursday making campaign stops in one of his district’s strongest Republican counties, new poll numbers showed the freshman Congressman with a 17-point lead over his GOP opponent in the battleground 8th district.

According to an internal poll conducted for Kissell’s campaign Aug. 19 to Tuesday, Kissell leads former sportscaster Harold Johnson 49 percent to 32 percent. Kissell’s total is below the 50 percent mark, but that’s less important because the contest is not a two-man race. Libertarian Thomas Hill took 7 percent, while 12 percent of voters are undecided, according to the survey, which was conducted by the Democratic polling firm Anzalone Liszt Research.

Pollsters John Anzalone and Zac McCrary said in their polling memo, “Even if Johnson were to win every undecided voter … he would still come up short in this three-way race.”

Democrats have long contended that Johnson is unknown outside the Charlotte media market, where he was a longtime sports personality, but Kissell’s new poll noted that Johnson has a “respectable” name identification of 57 percent districtwide. But Johnson’s 32 percent favorable to 25 percent unfavorable rating was less impressive.

The live telephone survey of 500 likely general election voters had a 4.4-point margin of error.

Kissell said Thursday that while it was nice to have a favorable snapshot of the race, he has no plans to slow down on the campaign trail. He spent the day preaching an economic message and painting himself as a moderate who isn’t caught up in Washington politics.

“I believe that government works best when government sets the environment for people to be successful, sets the parameters, gives the incentives, gives the help and then gets out of the way and lets people do best what they know how to do,” Kissell said at a ribbon-cutting event for an apartment complex in Locust that received some funding through the economic stimulus bill he voted for. “Sometimes some of my colleagues inside the Beltway in Washington don’t know that that’s the best way for government to be successful.”

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