Siena Senate Polls: Latimer Edging Cohen, Hanna Leading O’Brien (Updated)
Siena is out with its first two polls of state Senate races, which bring mixed news for both the Democrats and the Republicans as they head into the final weeks of their epic re-match for control of the Senate.
In the 37th SD, Democratic Assemblyman George Latimer has a three-point lead over Republican Bob Cohen, who is making his second attempt at winning the seat.
Two years ago, Cohen came within 730 votes of ousting Democratic Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, who opted to retire at the end of 2012 rather than seek re-election.
According to Siena, Latimer leads Cohen 44-41 among likely voters with 15 percent undecided.
The two candidates are about evenly matched when it comes to their favorable/unfavorable ratings.
Latimer is at 30-29, with 41 percent of voters saying they don’t know enough about him to have an opinion.
The numbers for Cohen are 31-23, 46.
President Obama and Mitt Romney are running about dead even – 47-48 – in the district at the moment.
The margin of error in the poll, which had a sample size of 438 voters, is 4.7 percent, which means this race is a statistical dead heat.
Things are looking better for the GOP – or worse for the Democrats, depending on your point of view – in a fight for another open seat further upstate.
Republican Assemblyman Sean Hanna is leading Democratic Monroe County Legislator Ted O’Brien, 47-39 with 14 percent undecided in the 55th Senate District.
The seat’s current occupant, Sen. Jim Alesi, one of four Republicans who voted “yes” on same-sex marriage last summer, also chose retirement over a re-election campaign this year.
O’Brien’s biggest problem is that most voters – 52 percent – haven’t got a clue who he is. Among those who know him, his favorable/unfavorable rating is 22-26.
Hanna’s unfavorables are slightly higher than O’Brien’s. His rating is 37-29. But he’s also better known. A mere 34 percent of poll respondents didn’t know who he is.
Obama has a wide lead over Romney in the district – 53-39. That’s good news for O’Brien, assuming the Democrats who don’t usually come out to vote fill in their ovals all the way down Row A on Election Day.
In case you’re curious, the sample size for the 55th SD poll was 446 voters, and the margin of error is 4.6 percent.
Jobs and property taxes top the list of issues voters care about in the 37th SD, while jobs and the state budget (though to a far lesser degree) are numbers 1 and 2 in the 55th SD.
Ethics reform? Yeah, that barely registers in either district, even though it was a top priority back in 2010.
Siena pollster Steve Greenberg says he won’t be surprised if the Latimer-Cohen race stays tight right up to Election Day.
That’s got to be stressful for the Republicans.
After all, Cohen is running for the second time around, so it’s not like he’s an unknown entity, and the GOP – along with its outside allies – have been spending big in this district already, with things getting downright nasty in the exchanges between the campaigns.
(Remember: This is the district where the Gropez scandal is in play).
The Democrats are really out-gunned in the money department, (still carrying debt from back in 2010), so they’ve had to marshall their resources until the end of the campaign. But look for them to make Latimer a priority candidate in the weeks remaining.
In other words, this race has the potential to be a bloodbath.
As for the Hanna-O’Brien match-up, Greenberg notes that five weeks, which is the time remaining in the campaign, is an eternity in politics. But Hanna has an early advantage that will be difficult for the less well-known O’Brien to overtake.
The Democrats plan to put up a fight for this seat, and O’Brien is so far faring better than they expected. This race will no doubt get closer before November.
So, to recap: The Republicans have an edge in maintaining a seat they currently hold, while the Democrats are in a tight battle to retain a seat that’s theirs – for the moment.
UPDATE: Mike Murphy, spokesman for the Senate Democrats, emailed this early-morning statement:
“Senate Republicans and their right wing extremist supporters have effectively been playing solitaire for the last month while pumping close to $4 million into these two campaigns to achieve paltry results.”
“Now that the playing field is leveled as we enter campaign season, we will tell the truth while Republicans keep spreading their tired old lies. The result will be two Democratic victories on our path back to the majority.”
UPDATE2: And now there’s this from Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif (with obligatory references to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of course):
“Today, Siena College released polls for Senate Districts 37 and 55, two districts where registered Democrats significantly outnumber registered Republicans.”
“Despite this enrollment disadvantage, our candidates are in a great position to win both seats.”
“Bob Cohen, a proven job creator who knows the importance of cutting taxes, is already within striking distance of career politician George Latimer in Westchester County, home to the highest property taxes in the nation.”
“Once hardworking taxpayers learn more about Assemblyman Latimer’s disastrous record on taxes, which includes voting against Governor Cuomo’s property tax cap and voting for the job-killing MTA payroll tax, we’re confident they will choose to send Bob Cohen to the State Senate.”
“In Senate District 55, Sean Hanna has built a solid campaign and is poised to win this Senate seat.”
“Sean Hanna is the only candidate in this race with a proven track record of working with Republicans and Democrats like Governor Cuomo, and of delivering for middle-class families in Western New York.”
“He voted in favor of the property tax cap, which is successfully keeping taxes down for seniors and homeowners.”
“These results show that New Yorkers are reacting positively to the bipartisan results we have delivered with Governor Cuomo when it comes to cutting spending and taxes, helping the private sector create new jobs and moving this state forward.”
“This is great news for Republicans, and confirms we are in a strong position to grow our majority in November.”
Crosstabs for the 37th SD:
Crosstabs for the 55th SD:
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