Poll: Wilson trails Democratic challenger

The congressman from South Carolina is behind by a percentage point -- but he'll come back

Published September 11, 2009 7:05PM (EDT)

On the surface, it looks like South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson's decision to interrupt President Obama's speech to Congress on Wednesday night has hurt him pretty badly. Wilson's Democratic challenger, Rob Miller, has raised more than $700,000 in the immediate aftermath of the incident, for one thing. And now a Democratic pollster has some seriously bad news for Wilson.

new survey by Public Policy Polling shows Wilson and Miller in a statistical dead heat, with Miller actually up by one percentage point, 44-43. 62 percent of voters in the Republican's district disapprove of what he did, while only 29 percent approve, and 49 percent said they were less likely to vote for Wilson now.

That does seem pretty bad for Wilson, but let's not jump to conclusions. Any poll taken this far out is essentially meaningless. Voters in South Carolina's second congressional district will have more than a year to forget about this whole thing, and the press will almost certainly have forgotten about it in a week or two.

Plus, the district is pretty solidly Republican. Miller did come within eight points of unseating Wilson last year, when the incumbent won 54-46, but that was the tighest race Wilson has faced. The district went for John McCain over Obama by about the same margin, 54-45. The increase in African American turnout prompted by Obama's candidacy, not to mention the anti-Republican feeling, probably helped Miller quite a bit last year; he won't have either of those advantages in 2010.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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