Miner Targets Molinaro

Former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has thus far trained most of her criticism in her long shot independent gubernatorial campaign on her fellow Democrat, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, keeping up a tradition she started even before she left local office and launched her statewide run.

But today, Miner has trained her sights on another of her opponents: Republican Marc Molinaro.

Miner issued a statement this morning calling on Molinaro to “clarify his support” for President Donald Trump, noting that while he has said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, instead writing in the name of former Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, he has “evaded taking a stand on the president’s positions.”

The former mayor says she and her supporters want Molinaro to publicly explain where he stands on five key issues, including: The elimination of the SALT deductions, abortion rights (specifically the Reproductive Health Act), the president’s U.S. Supreme Court nominees, private funding for infrastructure projects, and Trump’s “refusal” to fund the Hudson River transit tunnel.

“As the party’s titular head, Molinaro has a moral responsibility to speak up for those vulnerable New Yorkers who are being victimized by the President’s rhetoric,”” Miner said. “We all have a responsibility to speak out against party leadership when they are wrong – just as I have spoken truth to power in regard to Andrew Cuomo’s behavior.”

Molinaro has been asked at one time or another about many, if not all, of these issues. But apparently Miner has not found his responses satisfactory.

This is an interesting approach for Miner, the former head of the state Democratic Party – a position to which she was appointed by Cuomo, and which she relinquished when their relationship soured due to her public criticism of his policies.

On the one hand, this seems to bolster Cuomo and his effort to link Molinaro to Trump, who is unpopular in this Democrat-dominated state.

But it also appears to be an effort to inoculate herself against criticism generated when she decided to run on the “Serve America Movement,” or SAM, line. SAM, which also happens to be Miner’s initials, was founded by a bipartisan group of political players that includes a number who worked for Republicans.

Miner has insisted she is trying to challenge the current two party system, and is in some ways beyond politics, instead focused on solutions and civility at a time when both are few and far between. She has tapped as her running mate the former Republican Mayor of Pelham, Michael Volpe.

Some critics have suggested that Miner’s candidacy will only bolster Molinaro’s long-shot effort to oust Cuomo, providing an outlet for disaffected voters – Democrats and independents – who don’t like the governor. But recent polling found that she, Libertarian candidate Larry Sharpe and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins are only attracting a combined 4 percent of the vote, with 8 percent undecided.

Morelle Leads Big In Spectrum News/Siena NY-25 Poll

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle holds a 17-point lead over Republican Jim Maxwell in the NY-5 race with just weeks remaining before voters head to the polls, according to a new Spectrum News/Siena College Research Institute poll released this morning.

Siena surveyed 465 likely voters between Oct. 4 and Oct. 8.

Morelle’s lead, while considerable, has actually decreased by 7 points from the last poll in late August, but pollster Steve Greenberg said it remains significant nonetheless, and also difficult to surmount for a largely unknown Republican opponent.

According to Greenberg, Morelle’s success can be attributed to several factors – including the Democratic enrollment advantage in the district and name recognition. In addition, Morelle is a long-time state legislator with a considerable voting record, the current Assembly majority leader and former Monroe County legislator and county Democratic committee chairman.

“He’s campaigned many, many times throughout the district so voters know him. It’s not just that they know the name. A lot of voters in Monroe County know who he is,” Greenberg said.

“Morelle is continuing to do a much better job holding onto his base. Eighty-one percent of Democrats say they’re with  Morelle, compared to Maxwell, who only 64 percent of Republicans say they’re with Maxwell right now.”

Both candidates actually have a positive favorability rating. However, nearly half of those polled either hadn’t heard of Maxwell or didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion.

By contrast, more than three quarters of respondents had an opinion on Morelle.

Greenberg said the numbers aren’t particularly surprising in a district which, in general, is in favor of a Democratically-controlled House and against President Donald Trump.

“(Trump’s) not as badly under water in this district as in many of the other districts we’ve seen,” Greenberg said. “Right now, 40 percent approve of the president’s job performance 55 percent disapprove, 15 point margin.  Morelle leads in the congressional race by 17 points so it’s pretty consistent.”

There is no incumbent in the race because long-time Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter passed away earlier this year. Morelle won a four-way Democratic primary to succeed her in June.

Meanwhile, Maxwell announced his candidacy in January, prior to the congresswoman’s death.

Voters will actually vote twice in November, the second time for a special election which will allow the candidate to take office right away this year in Slaughter’s place, serving out the remainder of her term until the end of December.

Spectrum News/Siena Poll NY-25 by on Scribd

Spectrum News/Siena Poll Shows Tight Race In NY-27

From the Morning Memo:

Three weeks out from Election Day, NY-27 appears to still be up for grabs, according to a Spectrum News/Siena College Research Insititute poll released this morning.

With 490 likely voters in the district surveyed Oct. 6-11, 46 percent said they would vote for incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Collins if the election were held today. Forty-three percent said they planned on voting for his opponent, Democrat Nate McMurray, with ten percent who refused to respond or said they were undecided and one percent for the Reform party candidate.

“They clearly want to see the Republicans in control,” pollster Steve Greenberg said. “They clearly like the job that the president is doing but their struggling with their vote for Congress.”

Collins’s slim lead stands in stark contrast to the voters’ responses to other questions in New York’s most Republican-leaning district. By an 18 point margin, for example, they said they want the GOP to continue to control the House.

Eighteen percent more also said they approved of the job President Donald Trump is doing than those who disapproved, which is, according to Greenberg, “by far the best numbers for Trump we’ve seen in a congressional district in New York, and one of the best numbers we’ve seen in a congressional district around the country.”

The poll did not ask voters their opinions about the fact that Collins is facing federal charges related to insider trading. He was indicted in August and is scheduled to face trial in February 2020.

However, based on the congressman’s favorability rating, it seems a safe bet that his legal woes are doing him no favors. Forty-nine percent of voters said they have an unfavorable opinion of Collins compared to 37 percent favorable, and Greenberg said the congressman’s score is low – even among members of his own party.

While the poll seems to be good news for the once long-shot McMurray, Greenberg could not say with certainty that the race is trending in the Democrat’s direction, because there was little to no data before Collins was indicted. Either way, he said, the Democrat remains the underdog given the district’s heavy GOP leanings.

“McMurray’s got to face an electorate that is inclined to vote against him,” Grenberg said. “What he’s got to do is find a way to reinforce with more Republicans, with independents and even with Democrats where he’s not as strong as he necessarily should be, he’s got u find a way to get some more voters over to his side.”

Greenberg also said a few things stand out in the poll results about the demographic breakdown. Siena has seen a gender gap for most races this election cycle, with more women generally leaning toward the Democratic candidate, however NY-27 is not following that trend.

He said education stands out as the biggest distinguishing factor between voters. McMurray has a 15-point lead among voters with a bachelor’s degree or higher, while Collins has a six point lead with those who have less than a bachelor’s degree.

Spectrum News/Siena College… by on Scribd

Qunnipiac Poll: Americans Support Roe V. Wade By 2-1 Margin

Americans agree with Roe V. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision which limited states’ abilities to restrict abortion, by a 2-1 margin according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

The study also found there is only a small gender gap with 61 percent of men supporting the ruling compared to 65 percent of women. The recent retirement announcement from Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered the swing vote on several issues including women’s reproductive health, has sparked the long-running debate again.

“There is no ambivalence on abortion as men and women dig in and say, ‘Hands off Roe v. Wade,'” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said.

Pro-life groups are hailing the vacancy as an opportunity to overturn the 45-year-old decision with President Donald Trump’s list of potential nominees having been influenced by conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already promised to have a vote on the new nominee by the fall with Democrats calling for it to come after November’s elections.

According to the poll, voters are divided on whether there should be a delay. Forty-eight percent believed the Senate should wait until after the mid-term contests while 46 percent said it should consider a nomination.

The poll also suggests Democrats may be set up to do well in November, with 50 percent of voters saying if the House elections were held today they would vote for a Democrat. There is a strong gender gap with men going Republican 50 percent of the time and 58 percent of women saying they’d choose a Democrat.

Quinnipiac polled 1,020 self-identified registered voters by telephone between June 27 and July 1. The study was statistically weighted to account for known deviations between the survey sample and “known population characteristics” and has a +/- 3.7 percent margin of error.

Siena Poll: Support Collapses For Con Con

Support among voters for holding a constitutional convention has plummeted, with a majority opposing next Tuesday’s referendum, a Siena College poll released this morning found.

The poll of likely voters found, by a margin of 57 percent to 25 percent, oppose holding a convention. A similarly wide majority of voters, 60 percent to 29 percent, believe that holding a convention will be too costly and a waste of time, as opposed to a once-a-generation chance to remake state government.

The poll comes after previous surveys of registered voters have shown support for holding a convention, though it had been on a steady decline.

And the lopsided change comes after several weeks of spending by labor unions and others in a coalition opposing the convention, who worry that holding one would put hard-won benefits in the existing constitution at risk.

Labor unions have spent heavily opposing the convention, pouring millions of dollars into an advertising and mail campaign to urge opposition. At the same time, labor groups and environmental organizations have been conducting member-to-member efforts.

Turnout is expected to be minimal in next week’s off-cycle vote and voters will also consider two ballot questions for constitutional amendments: Stripping officials convicted of felonies of their pensions and the creation of a land bank in the Adirondacks and Catskills parks.

With less than a week to go before Election Day, a third of voters said they’ve heard or read a lot about the referendum, while 27 percent responded they have heard or read something. Only 19 percent say they’ve received no information.

Supporters of holding a convention believe it’s a chance to institute needed reforms in state government. And voters generally are supportive of some of those potential reforms, the poll found.

Eighty-four percent would back term limits for lawmakers and 79 percent back term limits for state elected officials; 77 percent support ending the practice of limited liability companies giving unlimited funds to campaigns; 74 percent back allowing initiative and referendum on the ballot; 65 percent support banning full-time employment for the Legislature.

Bigger changes to the state are opposed, however, with only 34 percent supporting limits to collective bargaining and 37 percent supporting revising “forever wild” requirements for the Adirondacks to allow for development. Both are issues that labor unions and environmental groups believe are at stake if a convention is held; voters would have to approve any changes to the constitution developed at a convention.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval rating stands at 52 percent to 43 percent, according to the Siena poll among likely voters.

President Trump’s favorability rating among New York voters has improved slightly, but remains only at 31 percent among likely voters.

The poll of 814 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 25 to Oct. 29. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

SNY1017 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Curran Campaign Memo Shows Curran Ahead (Updated)

On the heels of the release by GOP Nassau County executive candidate Jack Martins’ campaign this morning of a polling memo that shows him leading his Democratic opponent, Laura Curran, among likely voters with Election Day fast approaching, the Curran campaign has responded with its own polling memo that shows…well, the exact opposite result.

According to the memo prepared for Curran by the polling and consulting firm Global Strategy Group, the Democratic Nassau County legislator leads her former state senator opponent by four percentage points, 43-39, with 17 percent of voters still undecided though there is just over one week remaining in the race.

Global Strategy Group found that Curran is “better known than her GOP rival and maintains strongly positive personal ratings,” and also that the Democrats have “advantages on key partisan metrics while Martins must contend with the extreme negativity surrounding the corruption connected to prominent Nassau County Republicans.”

That explains why Curran has been consistently trying to tie Martins to the man whose seat both candidates are trying to win, retiring Republican County Executive Ed Mangano, who opted not to seek re-election as he fights federal corruption charges; as well as former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, another Long Island Republican felled by a federal corruption case, (though his conviction was overturned due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision).

According to the memo, which appears in full below, a majority of voters have unfavorable opinions of Mangano (20 percent favorable/56 percent unfavorable), and the level of negativity is just as great for Skelos (15 percent favorable/47 percent unfavorable).

Also, the memo maintains, President Donald Trump is “unpopular and a liability for a fellow Republican like Martins,” (41 percent favorable/51 percent unfavorable; 44 percent very unfavorable).

UPDATE: A sharp-eyed reader who pays close attention to detail notes that the Global Strategy poll was conducted Oct. 16-17, which was almost two weeks ago now, whereas the poll conducted for the Martins campaign was in the field much more recently – Oct. 25-26 – and so ostensibly has more updated information.

Take into consideration, of course, that neither side is releasing the entirety of their respective surveys, only the interpretations of the results by the firms that collected and analyzed the data, so it’s difficult to say from an objective standpoint which is more accurate.

Nassau County Tracking Memo F10.30.17 by liz_benjamin6490 on Scribd

Martins Campaign Polling Memo Shows Martins Ahead

From the Morning Memo:

Nassau County executive candidate Jack Martins’ campaign released a polling memo that shows the Republican candidate leading his Democratic opponent, Laura Curran, by six percentage points among likely voters with 10 days remaining until the November election.

The poll, conducted for Martins by Clout Research LLC, found the former state senator beating the Nassau County legislator 47-41. The firm’s founder, Fritz Wenzel, said Martins has remained ahead over the past two months due to the fact that his favorability rating has been stronger than hers.

“While Curran’s favorability has grown to by 17 percentage points to 47 perent of the electorate, Martins’ favorability has grown even more,” Wenzel wrote. “He is now viewed favorably by 55 percent of survey respondents (a 20 percentage point improvement). By five percentage points, Martins is also slightly more well-known than Curran to Nassau County votes.”

Both candidates have improved their support among their respective political bases over the past two months, with Curran jumping from 72 percent to 80 percent with Democratic, Working Families Party and Green Party members, and Martins moving up from 77 percent to 82 percent among Republicans and Conservatives.

Martins is also seen favorably by 35 percent of Democrats across the aisle, compared to 27 percent of Republicans that see Curran in a favorable light, according to the memo.

Martins also continues to perform well in his old Senate district, and leads among white voters and male voters, while Curran is ahead with women.

The intense focus on sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood, publishing, media and the arts spurred Clout Research to inquire about the local situation in Nassau County.

According to the memo, the firm found that Curran “suffers significantly by not criticizing – and even campaigning alongside – Democratic Party-endorsed candidates for county clerk, the county legislature and town clerk who have either been charged or accused of physically assaulting and harassing women.”

Martins has publicly criticized Curran on this issue, leading the Democrat to accuse her opponent of making a “a desperate ploy for attention.” She also noted that Martins continued to support then-presidential candidate Donald Trump even after the emergence of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump bragged about assaulting women.

Also, in the case of Dean Bennett, the Democratic candidate for county clerk, Curran said there is no proof of any allegations being lodged against him.

The Martins polling memo appears in full below. Martins and Curran are competing for the seat that is being vacated by Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who opted not to seek re-election as he fights federal corruption charges.

NY – Nassau County Survey Polling Memorandum 10-27-2017-2 by liz_benjamin6490 on Scribd

Siena Poll: Cuomo’s Numbers Are Up After Rough Summer

After a rough summer of mass transit trouble in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval and favorability ratings are up in a Siena College released Friday morning.

The poll found Cuomo’s favorability rating has bumped up to 57 percent to 35 percent, a slight increase from a 56 percent to 37 percent rating last month.

His job performance remains negative, however, with 48 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving. Still, that’s up from last month, when he recorded a 43 percent to 55 percent job performance, the poll found. At the same time, that’s a 10 percentage-point jump after it was flat last month, due to his support from Democratic and independent voters.

More than half of voters, 52 percent, are prepared to re-elect the governor, who is seeking a third term next year. Forty-one percent would prefer a generic “someone else.” The margin is an improvement for Cuomo from July, when 48 percent of voters backed his re-election bid and 44 percent preferred someone else.

President Trump’s ratings in New York continue to tank, meanwhile. Trump has a negative 28 percent to 68 percent favorability rating, down from a 29 percent to 66 percent spread in September. His job performance rating has remained virtually flat at 23 percent approval to 77 percent disapproval.

Though Cuomo is not on the ballot this year, a referendum on whether to hold a constitutional convention is, and support for the measure appears to be dropping, the poll found.

Voters by a narrow 44 percent to 39 percent margin back a convention, which is down from a 45 percent to 33 percent last month. They are also split on the potential effectiveness of a convention. Forty-four percent believe it’s a unique opportunity to revise the state constitution. Similarly, 45 percent believe holding a convention would be “an expensive waste of time.”

Nearly half of voters — 49 percent — said they have heard nothing at all about the coming referendum for a convention, which is held every 20 years.

Labor unions, environmental groups as well as conservative organizations have opposed the convention, believing deep-pocketed interests would seek to gain control of the convention and strip hard-won benefits from the constitution.

The convention is backed by some good-government organizations as well as attorneys, who believe it is a chance to update the constitution and combat structural problems in state government.

Fifty-three percent of voters said they would oppose a convention that strips unions of collective bargaining rights and 49 percent would not back any efforts to allow for more development in the Adirondack Park, which has protected status in the constitution.

The poll of 789 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 1 through Oct. 2. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

SNY0917 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman on Scribd

New Poll Claims WNY Disagrees With Bills/NFL About Protests

From the Morning Memo:

The Buffalo Bills organization may have alienated its fans in supporting player protests on Sunday, according to a recent poll.

The survey was commissioned by Western New York Republican consulting firm Big Dog Strategies, run by Chris Grant, a former aide to Rep. Chris Collins, who still has close ties to the congressman.

Grant partnered with Remington Research Group, a pollster that made its name, in part, by predicting a Donald Trump in 2016 win when others wouldn’t.

Following Monday night’s game, the pollsters said, they surveyed 1,390 likely 2018 general election voters at random via robocall.

“Anytime the president decides to devote a portion of his prime-time rally speech to talking about a cultural issue like this and any time the president devotes as much Twitter column inches, for a lack of a better phrase, as he has over the weekend, clearly it’s an issue that’s important and resonating,” Grant said.

Grant said he had a hunch that Americans, and Republicans in particular, agreed with the president’s statements about protesting during the national anthem, and the data beared that out.

Although Remington also did a nationwide poll, Grant said he specifically wanted to know what people thought in sports-crazed Western New York.

“Buffalo is a unique place in America,” he said. “It’s Democratically-aligned in terms of its politics, but culturally it’s a little bit more Conservative.”

According to the poll, only 23 percent of Western New Yorkers – which in this case includes parts of the greater Rochester area and the Southern Tier – support the protests.

Furthermore, about half of them said they’d be less likely to watch Bills games as a result of players taking a knee.

Grant said that while this issue is generally partisan, with more Republicans than Democrats agreeing with president, members of both parties and unaffiliated voters also would prefer to see less politics in sports.

Grant acknowledged people might question his motives, given his ties to well-known Trump supporters like Collins and Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy, but insisted the numbers speak for themselves.

“At the end of the day, we let the data tell us the story, we don’t tell the data what to say,” he said.

One anonymous industry insider disagreed, arguing the survey was meant to elicit the response the pollster wanted, not gain actual insight.

For instance, the person questioned why it was weighted to match demographics, leading higher percentage of Republicans questioned from an electorate chosen by the firm in the first place.

The insider also said the questions were filled with loaded language designed to direct people to the “right answer.” Another example, the choices for whether voters supported the protest were: Support, There is a more appropriate place to protest, or No opinion.

Still, Grant stood by the poll’s results. He pointed to the fact that more voters actually had an unfavorable view than favorable view of Trump, but nevertheless seemed to agree with the president on this issue.

“There’s no tougher critic of political consultants than ourselves,” he said. “We take special pains to make sure that our data’s accurate because if it’s not accurate and we lose, then we don’t get clients anymore and so we spend a lot of time making sure that the methodology and the data’s correct.”

The next step, he said, will be to see if the poll’s results actually play out in reality for the remainder of the Bills’ season, but he believes the organization should be concerned.

Buffalo Voters Talk About Their Siena Poll Answers

From the Morning Memo:

As part of the most recent Spectrum News/Siena poll of the Buffalo Democratic mayoral primary, some of those questioned said they would be willing to discuss their answers.

Spectrum News spoke with a supporter of each candidate – incumbent Byron Brown, current city Comptroller Mark Schroeder, and current Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant – about why they plan to vote for their respective first choices at the ballot box today.

With nearly half of those surveyed saying they plan to back Brown, the mayor heads into today as the prohibitive favorite.

Voter Tito Malec said he didn’t always support the three-term incumbent, but he has come around, largely because he thinks crime is they city’s biggest issue and Brown is in the best position to fix it.

“You can do a lot of talking, but talking doesn’t mean it’s going to get done,” Malec said. “I don’t want to take a chance with other people that we get somebody in and in the next four years, nothing gets done.”

Adrian Rogers is among the 11 percent of poll participants who said they’d vote for Grant. Rogers said he doesn’t think Brown understands what all his constituents want, while Grant has been a community leader for decades.

“There are issues where he says he’s in touch with the people where he couldn’t be more out of touch, especially when it comes to environmental issues like testing with lead,” Rogers said. “Lead is a very big thing on the East Side right now, and he doesn’t focus on it.”

Conventional wisdom is that Comptroller Mark Schroeder’s base is largely in the traditionally Irish area of South Buffalo. That’s indeed where Schroeder supporter Joe Chisholm lives.

“Mark has walked our neighborhoods, he cares about our neighborhoods, he knows where people are. The other people – you don’t see them at all,” Chisholm explained. “I’m sorry but, we’re part of Buffalo. Gotta remember that part.”

The winner of the primary will still have to compete in the general election in November, but with a strong Democratic majority in the city and no Republican candidate on the ballot, will be the favorite to win the seat.