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Poll shows tie between candidates for Representative seat

	David Price is the Democrat incumbent representative from North Carolina

David Price is the Democrat incumbent representative from North Carolina

If a new poll is to be believed, the race in North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District just became closer than anyone expected.

Republican challenger B.J. Lawson’s campaign released internal polling data Tuesday that puts him in a virtual tie with U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., with only four-tenths of a percentage point between them.

Lawson’s campaign is billing the release as a major victory and a sign that he is making inroads in challenging incumbent Price. But political analysts have questioned the validity of the poll and the degree to which Price is actually in danger of losing his solidly Democratic seat.

“This isn’t your standard polling outfit,” said David Wasserman, house editor for The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan elections analysis group. “This is an outfit that most in Washington would not consider reputable. All the indicators are that David Price is in a strong position to win re-election.”

The data was gathered by a group called Action Solutions, a consulting group that does fundraising and polling for candidates. It found that 46.5 percent of respondents said they would vote for Lawson, compared with 46.1 percent for Price.

The fourth district, represented by Price since 1997, voted 62 percent for President Barack Obama and gave Price a wide margin of victory over then-challenger Lawson in 2008. National media have considered the fourth district solidly in Price’s control this season — so much so that it hasn’t been polled by national groups in months.

The Price campaign dismissed the data in a statement.

“We have a hard time buying what B.J. Lawson says his Republican consultant says are his chances in this race,” said Andrew High, press secretary for the Price campaign.

The leaders of the polling firm are closely associated with the Republican party in Oregon.

Leroy Towns, a professor of political journalism at UNC, cautioned that not all internal polls are necessarily biased.

But he also noted that analysts should use their best judgement.

“I tell people, use your smell test and use your common sense. And if something seems wrong in a poll, it might be.”

Contact the State & National Editor at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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