by Joe Schwartz
The race for Chapel Hill mayor is too close to call between Matt Czajkowski and Mark Kleinschmidt, according to a poll released today by Public Policy Polling. The councilmen have 45 and 44 percent, respectively, with a 4 percent margin of error. Competitors Augustus Cho and Kevin Wolff each have 3 percent.
The survey found incumbent Ed Harrison (12 percent), Gene Pease (11 percent) and first-term Councilwoman Laurin Easthom (10 percent) leading the race for four seats on the Chapel Hill Town Council with Jon DeHart (9 percent) and Matt Pohlman (9 percent) battling Penny Rich (8 percent) and appointed Councilman Jim Merritt (7 percent) for fourth place. Will Raymond came in last at 3 percent.
The poll was conducted Saturday and Sunday with 30 percent of the 614 voters contacted responding as still undecided. Election Day is tomorrow.
Tom Jensen, PPP's communications director, said this is the first time he's polled a community the size of Chapel Hill and that it's hard to guarantee accuracy for such a small sample size. The poll also did not reach those who do not have a landline.
Though the numbers could be a bit skewed, Jensen says the main takeaway is that the race is tight and that no candidate can claim a clear mandate if elected.
"It truly could be a race that gets decided by one- or two-hundred votes," said Jensen, a Chapel Hill resident who supports Kleinschmidt, Harrison and Pease. "The other interesting thing that we need to take into account no matter who wins is that we're really a divided community."
Jensen says it's likely that the council seats could be split among status quo and change candidates, noting that 51 percent of those polled said the town is on the right track with 49 percent wanting a new direction. He said he wouldn't be surprised if any of the top seven candidates won.
Czajkowski, who has presented his campaign as charting that new course, earned 70 percent of support from those wanting change. Kleisnschmidt meanwhile has 75 percent of the "right track" vote.
Now it's a matter of who turns out to the polls tomorrow. You can view PPP's full survey, questions, crosstabs and all, here.