WITH less than two weeks until the primary election, longtime West Virginia Democratic Congressman Alan Mollohan is up by nine points over challenger state Sen. Mike Oliverio in the First District race.
Or is Mollohan down by eight points?
The status of what has become one of the most interesting races this season, as usual, depends on which campaign is providing the perspective.
Oliverio's campaign released a poll last week showing Oliverio with the support of 41 percent of likely voters, Mollohan with 33 percent and 26 percent undecided. The poll was done by Orion Strategies, which is owned by Oliverio's campaign manager, Curtis Wilkerson.
This week, Mollohan's campaign released a poll showing Mollohan with 45 percent, Oliverio with 36 percent and 19 percent undecided. The poll was conducted by Fredrick Polls, a Democratic polling firm from Arlington, Va.
I'll leave the polling to the experts, but I find it difficult to believe that Mollohan is down by eight points. Still, even Mollohan's own poll shows him in trouble.
No incumbent wants to see the opponent just nine points back two weeks out. That means the challenger is within striking distance just as many voters are focusing in on the race and making up their minds.
The Fredrick Poll shows Mollohan with extremely high name recognition - 94 percent compared with 66 percent for Oliverio. That's a good thing for Mollohan.
But there is a problem: One in five voters is still undecided.
As one political consultant not affiliated with either campaign told me, it's never a good sign when everybody knows you, but such a large percentage - 19 percent - can't decide whether they like you well enough to vote for you.