Siena Polls Buffalo, Looking Good for Brown

The Buffalo News and Channel 2 commissioned a Siena poll of 966 Buffalo registered voters, and 620 likely (D) voters. 51% think New York State is on the right track, and 56% of respondents think Buffalo is going in the right direction. 

The one thing that was interesting about the mayoral race was how differently younger respondents felt about people and issues than older voters. The candidates for mayor have a built-in disadvantage, given the way that City Hall’s patronage system has turned it into a piggy bank and volunteer database for mayoral re-election campaigns. But Democratic challenger Bernie Tolbert and Republican nominee Sergio Rodriguez really need to get their messages out more effectively, but it’s very difficult when you’re a marginally funded or unfunded challenger to an incumbent with a million bucks in the bank. It’s especially difficult when the local media abrogate their civic duty and choose Jeopardy and Entertainment Tonight over a lengthy, substantive mayoral debate. Reddit AMAs and YouTube-only videos are no substitute for direct mail and TV advertising, and given the results of the News’ poll, it’s tough to see how Rodriguez especially is going to be able to overcome his financial disadvantage and defeat Brown. 

At least we have the crosstabs to look at. 

If Donn Esmonde wants to throw challengers to Byron Brown under the bus, he’s ignoring the fact that Tolbert’s numbers are similar to the “wrong track” figure. That makes any challenge against a sitting, well-funded incumbent who has an entire corrupt political machine at his disposal an extraordinarily difficult prospect. Add to that the fact that 58% of respondents have a positive view of Byron Brown. – especially people over the age of 35. Younger voters support Brown by a minimal margin of 49 – 43, with 9% not being sure. 

When asked about Tolbert, the winner is “not sure”, with 44%. 39% of people have a positive view of him, and he is unpopular with younger voters, 23% of whom like him, 29% of whom don’t, and fully half of whom have no idea who he is. 

The poll tells us that County Executive Poloncarz has a 60% favorability rating, and Brian Higgins’ is 77%. But with Poloncarz, too, voters under the age of 35 have no clue whether they like him or not. 

Alas, it’s uglier for Sergio Rodriguez – fully 55% of respondents have no idea who he is. Of the people who do, 22% like him and 24% don’t.  That’s pretty devastating. Older voters are more ignorant of Rodriguez than younger voters – 56% of voters over 55 don’t know who he is, while 47% of voters under 35% are clueless. 

Carl Paladino has done a good job polarizing the populace, and making himself unlikeable. 91% of people are aware of him, and 47% don’t like him; 44% do. His popularity is stronger with Republicans, as you might expect (68%), and independents/other (55%). His support is evenly split among older people who know him, but younger people disapprove of him 49 – 34. White respondents are far more supportive of Paladino than African-Americans, only 24% of whom like him versus 63% of whom who don’t. Most respondents think that Paladino has only been “somewhat effective” on the school board, and generally oppose a state takeover of city schools.

Most respondents think that Byron Brown is doing a “good” or “fair” job as mayor. Only 28% of likely Brown voters think he’s doing an “excellent” job – is that grounds for a third term? 49% say yes, while 43% would prefer someone else.

Of likely voters, just a bit over half have made up their mind. 48% are open to alternatives. More voters think that Byron Brown would be better than Tolbert on the issues of crime, education, neighborhood issues, economic development, jobs, and taxes. 

Brown Poll: Crosstabs at Large

66% of Buffalonians like Mayor Byron Brown. That’s no surprise – he’s quite personable and likable when seen out and about. Yet 80% of Buffalonians think the school system is horrible (only 11% think it’s good). 

Neither WGRZ nor the Buffalo News have seen fit to publish the full results of the poll, including crosstabs, and it’s not available at Siena’s site

So, we’ll just have to wait for the information to trickle out the way that “real media” decide for you

Siena NY-27: Collins Leads, Baseline Set

A week or so ago, Channel 2 and the Buffalo News commissioned Siena College’s Research Institute to survey 628 likely voters in the newly constituted NY-27. The headlines revealed that Collins leads Hochul by a very slim margin – within the 3.9% margin of error. (Collins: 47%, Hochul 45%, 7% unsure). This comes as no surprise to anyone, given the fact that the district is largely populated in Erie County’s suburbs, where Collins finds his base, and because of the heavy GOP advantage within that geography. 

The sample consists of 32% Democrats, 41% Republicans, 26% independent or other (not to be confused with the execrable, transactional “Independence Party”). 42% of the sample came from Erie County, with the balance from Niagara and GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming). 

The poll’s crosstabs are here. Some takeaways

  1. Hochul’s favorables are much stronger than Collins among voters outside of Erie County. Her favorable/unfavorable/dnk in Erie Co. is 54/39/8; outside of the county it’s 50/29/20. Collins’ are 57/38/5 in Erie, and 41/30/29.  
  2. 54% of the survey respondents say they prefer a majority Republican congress. It’s a testament to the good job that Hochul’s doing that 45% would like to re-elect Hochul to Congress, versus 40% who wouldn’t, and 14% who have no clue. 
  3. President Obama isn’t too popular in the district, with 56% saying they have an unfavorable opinion of him.  Obama would lose the district 53-41 if the election was held during the survey period. Cuomo’s favorable rating is 66%.  
  4. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a 47% favorability rating, 35% unfavorable, and 18% don’t know. Astonishingly, her Republican opponent’s ratings are 15% favorable, 14% unfavorable, and a whopping 71% don’t know. Nevertheless, when the survey asks voters whether they’d vote for Gilibrand “on the Democratic line”, or Long “on the Republican line”, the result is 49% Gillibrand, 40% Long, and 11% don’t know. 
  5. 50% of NY-27 voters would like the Bush tax cuts repealed for amounts earned in excess of $250,000. 47% oppose a repeal, and 4% were holding the phone backwards. 
  6. The top issues are jobs, the deficit, and health care, and voters prefer Collins by a slim margin on all three of those issues. Hochul is preferred on the Afghan war and education. Inexplicably, Medicare was not part of the questioning. 
  7. 46% of respondents think Hochul would do a better job than Collins in representing the district’s interests. 42% prefer Collins, while 12% like turtles. 

It’s a very tight race, and the coming TV ads are going to bombard us with information that’s carefully tailored to move the needle on these issues one way or another. The last time Siena gave Collins news that he was in a dead heat, he sent out current Comptroller candidate Stefan Mychajliw to denigrate Siena and its mother as “fictitious, inaccurate, and worthless”  to anyone would would listen (read: Bob McCarthy). 

Hochul’s big challenge? Corwin wasn’t anywhere near as well-known or well-regarded as Collins throughout the district. Whereas Corwin came across just as aloof and arrogant as Collins, perhaps there’s more than just a hint of sexism at play, since voters seem willing to accept much boorish behavior from the Six Sigma enthusiast than from Assemblywoman Corwin, whom Hochul obliterated in favorability with each passing day during the 2011 race. 

Hochul needs to get out in front of the Medicare issue, and she needs to start making Collins look like the bad guy he really is. I would be shocked if Collins himself didn’t give her the assist by doing or saying a string of absolutely horrible, head-shaking things. 

In May 2011, Hochul defeated Corwin 47 – 43%. What we’ve learned from the Corwin campaign and the Collins race against Poloncarz, when the Collins crew is faced with a credible and well-funded candidate, they get too cocky by half and screw it all up. With Collins’ recent declaration that 25 pages’ worth of his tax schedules and worksheets are too much for our feeble minds to handle, it looks like not a lot has changed.