Brad Sherman — accountant, robot, statesman — claimed a wide polling advantage today over Howard Berman in their San Fernando Valley showdown.

Sherman's poll shows him trouncing Berman in a head-to-head runoff in the newly drawn 30th Congressional District:

Sherman 51
Berman 24

But the poll also suggests that Berman won't even make it past the June primary.

Consider the source, as always. But in a three-way primary with Republican Mark Reed, the poll shows Berman finishing third:

Sherman 42
Reed 26
Berman 17

Sherman's consultants seem to be preparing to cast Berman as a creature of Washington who is out of touch with the needs of the San Fernando Valley. The polling memo stresses Sherman's advantage in visibility (47-20) and listening to Valley concerns (48-27).

Sherman has an advantage in that he currently represents half of the new district, while Berman represents only a quarter of it. (The other quarter, roughly, currently belongs to Berman ally Henry Waxman.)

For their part, Berman's folks are likely to challenge Sherman's turnout model. In theory, a contested Republican presidential primary should attract older, more affluent voters to the polls, which could help Berman. (Though the Republican race is likely to be settled before it gets to California.)

Lot's of campaigning yet, but maybe this will renew pressure for Berman to run in the 29th Congressional District. Tony Cardenas is still all alone over there, and he could use a real opponent.

Either way, this could be the last gasp of the fabled Waxman-Berman machine. Or do they have one more in them?

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