Paul Ryan's Republican challenger says gap is narrowing

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Frank Schultz
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The man challenging Rep. Paul Ryan in the Republican primary claims he has made substantial gains among voters, but the Ryan campaign dismissed the suggestion.

Paul Nehlen, who has been attacking Ryan from the right and from the position of an ardent Donald Trump supporter, announced poll numbers over the weekend that he says show Ryan leads Nehlen by 11 percentage points, with 25 percent undecided, among those likely to vote in the Aug. 9 primary.

Nehlen campaign aide Eric Odom told The Gazette via email that 424 likely GOP primary voters were polled. Only land lines were called.

Those polled were selected from 11,000 likely Republican voters, Odom said.

The Nehlen campaign announced that Nehlen garnered 32 percent, or 135, poll respondents, while Ryan got 43 percent, or 183 of those responding.

The 106 remaining were undecided.

Sixty-one percent of respondents were ages 65 and older, while another 28 percent were 50 to 64, according to a Nehlen news release.

The 11,000 were taken from a district voter file that included data that helped them select likely GOP voters who voted in at least two of the last three primary elections for the 1st District seat, Odom said.

The voters were from all over the district, and the polling was done last Thursday and Friday, he said.

The selection of those called was random; no effort was made to call voters who might have been predisposed to favor Nehlen, such as those whom Nehlen workers have spoken with directly, Odom said.

“We really wanted to understand how our standing is improving,” Odom said.

The poll was conducted with the help of “a pollster,” Odom said.

In a fundraising email, Nehlen claimed the poll results show Ryan trending downward and are evidence that Nehlen could defeat him.

Ryan campaign aide Zack Roday would not discuss Ryan's recent polling but issued this statement: “Paul Ryan continues to enjoy robust support from Wisconsin residents. Wisconsinites know who Paul Ryan is and what he stands for. Nothing has changed since the last public poll, which showed Paul Ryan with a 73-point lead.”

Roday was referring to a poll commissioned by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative journalism website.

The Free Beacon poll, conducted by Vox Populi Polling and announced May 27, showed Ryan led Nehlen, 80 percent to 7 percent, among those who said they would vote in the primary.

The Gazette could not independently confirm the truth of either campaign's claims.

The Nehlen survey wording was: “If the Republican primary election were held today for U.S. Congress, and the candidates are Paul Nehlen and Paul Ryan, for whom would you vote, or are you undecided?” Odom said.

The survey also asked two other questions: “Do you support the $1 trillion Omnibus spending bill that funded Obama's Syrian refugee program?” and “Do you support the push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership global trade deal?” Odom said.

Nehlen has been hammering Ryan for his role in the passage last December of the $1.8 trillion government-spending bill and Ryan's support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

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