NY-22 Minute: Trump & GOP Control of House More Popular Than Tenney By Luke Perry
The Siena College Research Institute recently released three campaign polls from NY-19, NY-22, and NY-24, the three most competitive House races in Central New York, all of which have GOP incumbents. I will discuss the results of each in three seperate pieces, beginning with NY-22.
5 Takeaways from NY-22 Poll
1. Tenney is the most vulnerable House incumbent in Central New York
Representative Tenney has yet to lead in any NY-22 poll. The last independent poll, conducted in May by Zogby Analytics, found Tenney trailing Anthony Brindisi by 7 points (margin of error 5.2 points).
This Siena poll found Tenney down two points (margin of error 4.8 points), making her clearly more vulnerable than John Katko (NY-24) and John Faso (NY-19) who are currently up 15 points and 5 points respectively.
2. NY-22 constituents view Tenney more unfavorably than favorably
Incumbents are typically viewed more favorably than challengers because they have the advantages of name recognition, performing constituent service, and securing federal resources for the benefit of the district.
42 percent of NY-22 constituents have a favorable view of Tenney, while 47 percent have an unfavorable view. This is particularly unusual for a Republican in a district where Republicans constitute a comfortable advantage of 30,000. Anthony Brindisi, on the other hand, is viewed favorably by 44 percent of constituents and unfavorably by just 27 percent of constituents.
3. Tenney has diminished support from Republicans
Electoral outcomes are largely contingent on turnout, particularly of fellow partisans. Weak Republican support is a main reason Tenney is in danger of losing her seat. 1 in 4 NY-22 Republicans favor Brindisi, which is atypical.
Solidifying party support will be vital for Tenney in the next two months. This will be challenging given tensions between her and some Republican Party committee members, stemming from poor communication, frustration over her campaign, and her handling of President Trump's fundraiser in Utica. In a close race, Tenney will be negatively impacted if these Republicans are demotivated to organize and mobilize fellow party members on her behalf.
4. NY-22 wants Republican control of Congress
Most NY-22 constituents (53 percent) want Republicans to maintain control of the House of Representatives. Just 40 percent prefer Democrats. Independents favor Republican control by 11 points, while being split with their support of NY-22 candidates. Even 13 percent of Brindisi supporters favor Republican control.
This suggests two things. First, the Republican Party label is not so much a problem for Claudia Tenney than people’s perceptions of her. Second, Tenney's campaign messaging invoking potential Democratic control of the House may have some traction.
5. Trump is still popular in NY-22
The good news for Claudia Tenney is that President Trump is still popular in NY-22. Trump won 55 percent of the district vote in 2016. 51 percent of NY-22 constituents currently approve of his job performance, while 44 percent do not. Though down slightly, Trump is doing much better in NY-22 than upstate New York or nationally. 55 percent of upstate New Yorker's and 60 percent of Americans at large currently view Trump unfavorably.
This is vital for Tenney who has embraced the president in an effort to expand her base. Tenney now looks to close the 13 point gap between the 60 percent of district Republicans who view her favorably and the 73 percent who view Trump favorably. A big question is how Tenney will pursue this.
Overall, this poll is not what a GOP incumbent in a solidly Republican district would want to see. The data reflects an open seat race more than typical incumbency advantage. Still, both candidates are clearly competitive and have obtainable paths to victory, explaining why the race is widely considered a toss-up.
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.