Polls taken in the 29th District, and other polls related to the race.

The Key Finding In the Siena Poll

Thanks to the commenters who pointed out that there's a new Siena poll out showing Reed leading Zeller by 14 points. Here's the important part:

A majority of district residents said they aren’t familiar with either candidate. A total of 57 percent of responders said they don’t know or have no opinion of Reed, while 82 percent of those polled either don’t know have no opinion of Zeller.

It's hard to poll a race where over half of those polled don't know either candidate, and a race where nobody knows either candidate can be influenced by advertisements from one or the other. If Zeller had the money for a big media campaign, he'd be able to acquaint some of that 82% with his candidacy, and I'd wager that the gap would close. The same is true, to a lesser extent, for Reed.

It's also true that a big negative media story could sink Reed's or Zeller's boat.

New Poll

We Ask America, a robo-polling firm, polled the 29th last week and found that 60% of the residents want a special election. Reed leads Zeller 41%-24%, with 35% undecided.

(via Rochesterturning)

It's Hard Out There for a Republican

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly created this graph from Research 2000 polling:

Even though the 29th is more Republican than the Northeast in general, I think this is a pretty powerful display of what I was trying to say in this post. The boilerplate rhetoric from the current Republican party only appeals to Southerners. Reed can't have a cut-and-paste campaign -- he needs to distinguish himself from the rest of the party.

Get Happy

Howard Owens at The Batavian writes about a new Gallup well-being survey that ranks Congressional districts. Here's a summary of the four districts in the Rochester area, sorted by their overall self-reported well-being. The first number is a score, the second is the district's ranking out of all of the districts in the U.S.

District Well-Being Index Life Evaluation Work Quality Basic Access Healthy Behavior Physical Health Emotional Health
NY-26 65.9 - 187/435 35.7 - 339/435 49.6 - 283/435 88.4 - 32/435 64.7 - 142/435 76.9 - 218/435 80.3 - 70/435
NY-25 65.2 - 237/435 38.1 - 272/435 44.8 - 388/435 87.9 - 42/435 64.1 - 169/435 76.9 - 217/435 79.1 - 188/435
NY-29 64.3 - 297/435 32.0 - 394/435 47.4 - 349/435 85.6 - 131/435 65.2 - 112/435 76.0 - 279/435 79.6 - 137/435
NY-28 63.0 -
39.8 - 229/435 43.0 - 411/435 82.6 -
61.2 - 332/435 73.7 - 386/435 77.5 -

As you can see, only the sad-sack 28th ranks below us in well-being. Here's another chart, this time with Census demographics. Shockingly enough, it looks like income tracks the well-being index pretty closely.

District High-School Graduates College Graduates In Poverty: Any Age Household Income: Median
NY-26 85.7% - 105/435 25.5% - 155/435 6.9% - 376/435 $46,653 - 134/435
NY-25 85.8% - 102/435 27.8% - 125/435 10.4% - 241/435 $43,188 - 190/435
NY-29 85.6% - 108/435 26.1% - 146/435 9.9% - 259/435 $41,875 - 202/435
NY-28 79.2% -
21.2% - 247/435 18.7% -
$31,751 - 387/435

I was called for this survey last week, though I don't know what period this data is from. There's more information on what each of the well-being indexes means at Gallup's site.

New Kuhl Poll: Kuhl Ahead by 10 Points

Reader Tom sends today's Corning Leader story [gif] about Randy Kuhl's new poll, which shows Kuhl leading by 10 points. The poll has a small sample size (300 voters), and the Leader story doesn't indicate when the poll was in the field.

Kuhl's poll contradicts last week's findings by two independent pollsters, who found that Kuhl was behind by 6-7 points.

Another Independent Poll Shows Massa Ahead

Eric Massa leads Randy Kuhl 48% to 42%, according to a Research 2000 poll taken in the 29th district Tuesday and Wednesday.

Though this poll was commissioned for the Daily Kos, Research 2000 is an independent organization and other Daily Kos/Research 2000 polls are considered high-quality products. Kos posts full crosstabs, which show that Obama is leading McCain 48-45 in the 29th. Bush beat Kerry by 14 points in the district in 2004.

The poll has a small sample size (400), with a 5% margin of error.

(via The Albany Project)

SurveyUSA: Massa 51, Kuhl 44

The first independent poll for the 2008 cycle shows Massa leading Kuhl by 7 points. The poll was commissioned and published [pdf] by the subscription-only Roll Call magazine.

FiveThirtyEight is a site that does extensive ranking of pollsters. They rate SurveyUSA as the most accurate polling organization in the nation, as explained here.

(via Rochesterturning)

DCCC Poll: Massa 47, Kuhl 42

The DCCC has released a poll showing Eric Massa leading randy Kuhl by 5 points, with 13% undecided. The poll's margin of error is 4.9%.

This is a poll by an interested party and should be taken with a grain of salt. The last independent poll in the district was taken by the New York State Board of Elections in November, 2006.

NRCC Poll: Kuhl Way Ahead

The National Republican Congressional Committee has released the results of a January poll that show Randy Kuhl 20 points ahead of Eric Massa. As with all polls from candidates or their representatives, this one should be taken with a grain of salt.

The WHAM13 blog post on the poll has the detail released by the pollster. Here's the tell:

Interview selection was random within predetermined election units. These units were structured to correlate with actual voter turnout.

One of the most important characteristics of a poll is its likely voter screen, the questions that pollsters ask to judge whether the person responding will actually vote. These weasel-words dodge the question of how voters were selected. With a sample size of 300, a slight tweak of the voter screen will lead to a huge effect in the poll's outcome. That's where this ham was watered.

What's more interesting is why the NRCC would release a poll so old that the Presidential choice section doesn't even include the presumptive Democratic nominee. The answer is that campaigns release these polls when they want to goose fundraising by convincing donors that their candidate has a chance. Since Kuhl is trailing Massa in funds raised, this poll is no surprise. What's really interesting is the weakness of this effort. The NRCC is so broke that they can't even afford to pay for a fresh poll, so they release this chestnut.

Update: As Zabriskie points out in the comments, the poll was conducted by McLaughlin and Associates on January 27-28. On January 30, the Kuhl campaign paid $16,215 to McLaughlin and Associates for a "Survey". So the NRCC press release is leveraging an old Kuhl poll. And the following assertion reported in the 13WHAM post is laughable:

“As far as the NRCC, Randy is a completely separate entity from the NRCC and really has no idea what they will or won’t do,” said Meghan Tisinger of Kuhl’s office.

Morning Roundup

A new National Public Radio/Kaiser Foundation/Harvard poll on S-CHIP has been released, and pollster.com has a summary.   The results are somewhat different from the USAToday/Gallup cited by Randy Kuhl.   When asked about the possibility of S-CHIP leading to people dropping private insurance, 65% said still favored S-CHIP expansion.  64% said they supported the veto override, and 52% said they weren't concerned about S-CHIP expansion leading to government-run health care.   35% said they would be less likely to support their Member of Congress if he or she voted to sustain the veto.

The difference in the two surveys is in the phrasing of the questions.  This shows that one poll by itself proves very little, a lesson that all of us should remember when it comes to polls in the 29th next year.  The full detail on the NPR poll is here [pdf], and the USAToday/Gallup detail is here

In other news, the Hornell Evening Tribune carries a money roundup today, calling the money race "neck and neck". 

Finally, my inability to punch in a 5-digit code correctly prevented me from covering the Massa press conference yesterday.
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