Fast and loose *

Antonio Villaraigosa's campaign sent email to supporters this afternoon claiming that he's leading the race for mayor based on a poll released today by the Hertzberg campaign. The first problem is, Hertzberg didn't release a poll today (or any other day). Second, Hertzberg's spokesman Matt Szabo says their internal polling doesn't agree with the numbers Villaraigosa is claiming. When I called to ask what gives, Nathan James at the Villaraigosa headquarters couldn't explain the quite specific wording in his candidate's email, but he did say they were just passing along numbers published in CalPeek [the political newsletter by Dick Rosengarten in Beverly Hills]. Below is what CalPeek actually says, and what Villaraigosa's people made of it:

First the Calpeek item:

New Poll in L.A. Mayor's Race: This recent poll for former Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg was conducted by Andre Penada—that much has been confirmed by the Hertzberg campaign, but nothing else. Here are the numbers: Antonio Villaraigosa 24%, Mayor Jim Hahn 20%, Councilman Bernard Parks 15%, Hertzberg 10% & State Sen. Richard Alarcon 6%.

Andre Pineda (correct spelling) is indeed Hertzberg's pollster. Szabo would not discuss what their polling does find, other than to say "all the internal numbers we have show that Hahn is in trouble." Trying to read between the lines, I suspect there is a poll with these numbers or something very close. It's not surprising that Hertzberg's people won't confirm it—it's not flattering to his chances. But caveat emptor: We don't know when the poll was taken, what the question was, what the margin of error was or who got polled. Basically, it's pretty useless out of context (or else I would have led with the numbers.)

With CalPeek the sole source on the poll, what Villaraigosa did with it is surprising:

Dear Friend,

We have some great new news to share with you: Antonio Villaraigosa is leading the 2005 race for Los Angeles Mayor -- even in the polling released by our opponents!

Earlier today, the Bob Hertzberg campaign released the results of their just completed mayoral poll. Here is what it showed:

Villaraigosa 24%
Hahn 20%
Parks 15%
Hertzberg 10%
Alarcon 6%

This latest poll is certainly great news, and it confirms what our own polling shows and what we've been sensing over the past few weeks: Antonio's message is resonating with the voters, and our campaign has the momentum....

The email was signed by Senior Advisor Parke Skelton.

* Advantage Villaraigosa on fundraising: Hertzberg, on the other hand, just issued a press release claiming to be the best-funded challenger to Hahn. But the numbers from Villaraigosa's camp show that he did better in the latest reporting period and now has a bit more cash on hand than Hertzberg.

The relevant numbers:

First column: Amount raised 10/1-12/31
2nd: Total raised so far
3rd: Cash on hand

Villaraigosa  $658,022    $1.307 M    $1.614M
Hertzberg  $473,165    $1.573 M    $1.604M
Hahn           $472,882     $2.74 M    $2.434M

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