The 17th congressional district, which takes in the southern Fort Worth suburbs, down to Waco, and east to Bryan-College Station, is the most Republican district in the country occupied by a Democrat. George W. Bush got 70% of the vote here in 2oo4. Nevertheless, incumbent Democrat Chet Edwards of Waco appears to be cruising to victory. After winning a bruising race against conservative stalwart Arlene Wohlgemuth two years ago (51.2% to 47.4%), Edwards has a comfortable 55-38 lead over his Republican challenger Van Taylor, according to a poll by Seattle-based Constituent Dynamics. Taylor’s efforts to tag Edwards as soft–and untruthful–on illegal immigration appear to have been unsuccessful. The polling firm has a very interesting explanation of its automated polling methodology and why it is allegedly superior to live interviews by humans. (The main reason is that respondents are less likely to hang up on automated polls. The technology is also cheaper and faster than live polling.) In addition, the Web site quotes two articles touting the success of robotic polling, one from the Wall Street Journal and one from Slate, the Internet political journal, the latter of which I have previously excerpted in this space. You can learn a lot about this technology by surfing this site and decide for yourself if it is cutting-edge. The technology is similar to that used by SurveyUSA, but Constituent Dynamics has a larger sample size (1008 validated respondents in the poll of the 17th, compared to around 500 in SurveyUSA polls) and thus a lower margin of error (+/- 3.1%). The poll was conducted October 8-10.

Constituent Dynamics also offers an excellent interactive map for following the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives. If you are absolutely dying to know the latest poll results from the 8th district of Indiana or the 1st district of New Mexico, this is the most user-friendly and informative site, with the caveat that all of the polling is done by Constituent Dynamics. Other sites, like, take note of every major poll.

Constituent Dynamics also has one of the best Web sites for following the battle for control of the House of Representatives.