Real Clear Politics is calling the race between
current House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher
(D-Va.) and Republican challenger Morgan Griffith a toss-up.
According to one poll cited by the group, Griffith had nudged ahead
in their southern, rural congressional district, but only by a
single percentage point (47% to 46%). Griffith had been behind in previous
polls, and by as much as 15 percentage points only five weeks ago, but
SurveyUSA, which conducted the poll Oct. 21-25, said independents had been
breaking "sharply Republican."
Even so, a couple of campaign watchers on the
telecom and broadcast sides predicted, based on intel gleaned from people
"on the ground," that Boucher would take the race.
The poll was conducted before WDBJ-TV and WSLS,
both in Roanoke, Va., aired debates between the two candidates,
so the impressions they made on voters in those face-to-face meetings are
not reflected on the numbers.
Boucher will likely not remain chairman even if he
wins, given predictions of a 45-50-vote swing in the House
toward Republican control, but he has been a friend of broadcasters--and a
recipient of some $2,500 in NAB PAC money this year.
Boucher co-sponsored a bill that would allow the
FCC to pay broadcasters to vacate or share spectrum, but only so
long as the move was voluntary. Boucher has long championed only auctions that
give broadcasters the legitimate option of saying "no
thanks" to the government's offer, while acknowledging he believes there
is a spectrum crisis that a truly voluntary process might help alleviate.
He has also come out in favor of the Comcast/NBCU deal.