Henry Bonilla’s lead over Ciro Rodriguez in the race for the 23rd congressional district has narrowed to four points on the eve of today’s election, according to a new Survey USA poll. On November 7, Bonilla fell just short of winning without a runoff, while Rodriguez led the also-rans with just 20%. A previous SurveyUSA poll had Bonilla up 53-46; yesterday the lead was down to 51-47 (530 likely voters, margin of error +/- 4.3%).
The turning point in the race came when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decided to intervene in–that is, take over–Rodriguez’s race. Ever since, this has been a rock-em, sock-em battle of negative TV commercials, with Bonilla accusing Rodriguez of having terrorist ties (based on work Rodriguez had done as a consultant for what Bonilla said were Islamic extremists) and Rodriguez and the DCCC hammering Bonilla for voting against veterans’ interests and voting eight times to give himself a pay raise.
Jaime Castillo’s analysis of the race in the San Antonio Express-News is that the race must be tight because of the way both sides are reacting: “Unless this race is close, none of those things happen. Bonilla wouldn’t go negative. The national Democrats wouldn’t stick around. And [Bill] Clinton would certainly have something better to do on the Sabbath than stump for a lost cause in San Antonio.” Castillo also noted that Republican areas did not outperform Democratic areas in the early vote, a departure from the norm.
Considering that the race started with Bonilla having $2 million in the bank and Rodriguez having a debt left over from previous campaigns, the current status, just minutes before the polls open, is amazing. Or maybe not so amazing. Money is of little use without intensity, and Democrats are just a lot more motivated than Republicans right now.