NY-22 Minute: 3 Takeaways From New Siena Poll By Luke Perry
Yesterday the Siena College Research Institute released its latest poll on the NY-22 campaign. Anthony Brindisi was up 46 percent to 45 percent over Claudia Tenney with a 4.7 point margin of error.
3 Big Takeaways
1. Late deciders will be pivotal in the final stretch
Anthony Brindisi and Claudia Tenney are deadlocked with 9 percent of respondents undecided. There were 278,348 votes cast in the 2016 race. 9 percent of voters constitutes approximately 25,000 people. Even accounting for lower turnout, common in midterm elections compared to presidential elections, how these roughly 20,000 late deciders break may determine the winner in what looks to be a remarkably close race.
Turnout by both parties will also be a key variable. NY-22 Democrats appear to have the edge with higher enthusiasm, greater unity, better organization, and strong disapproval of President Trump (70 percent), while the president’s party typically loses seats in midterm elections. A key question is whether this will be impactful enough to overcome a 30,000 registered partisan advantage for Republicans.
2. Brindisi has developed a significant lead with independents
One key subtext to this race is who will win over the 34,638 (12 percent) voters who supported third party candidate Martin Babinec in 2016. Siena’s August poll of NY-22 found Brindisi ahead with independents by just one point and 14 percent undecided. Siena’s recent poll found Brindisi ahead by 16 points with 8 percent undecided.
Independents have been a central focus of Brindisi’s campaign from the beginning. It is hard to understate the importance of these gains in the final weeks. For Brindisi to win, he needs strong support from independents coupled with diminished Republican support for Tenney.
3. Tenney still lagging in Republican support
For Tenney to win, she needs to close ranks with Republicans. Yesterday’s poll found her support among NY-22 Republicans virtually unchanged since August at 66 percent. This is 15 to 25 points lower than an incumbent would want.
Richard Hanna’s recent endorsement of Brindisi complicates potential Republican consolidation around Tenney. Some NY-22 Republicans view Hanna as a “RHINO” (Republican in name only) after he became the only sitting House Republican to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016. Some NY-22 Republicans respect and miss his moderate Republican style of leadership and representation.
Hanna’s advocacy for Brindisi may be an inhibiting factor behind-the-scenes as Tenney seeks to broaden her base of support within the Republican Party. In recent days, Hanna and Tenney have both been courting local party elites.
Meanwhile, Tenney continues to be viewed more unfavorably (42 percent) than favorably (47 percent) in NY-22, even while President Trump enjoys majority support district wide and most NY-22 likely voters prefer Republican control of the House to Democratic control.
This includes nearly 30 percent of Republicans who view her unfavorably. A key question is if and how Tenney can change the minds of fellow Republicans before time runs out.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
Read the NY-22 Minute for timely and comprehensive analysis of the campaign.