The Fighting 29th - Polls Polls taken in the 29th District, and other polls related to the race. en 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.

]]> Analysis Polls Thu, 23 Sep 2010 11:41:54 +0000 Rottenchester 6468 at
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)

]]> Polls Sun, 25 Apr 2010 20:57:46 +0000 Rottenchester 6313 at
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.

]]> Analysis News Polls Mon, 21 Sep 2009 19:10:23 +0000 Rottenchester 5896 at
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.

]]> News Polls Mon, 06 Apr 2009 11:42:25 +0000 Rottenchester 5563 at
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.

]]> News Polls Tue, 14 Oct 2008 14:36:18 +0000 Rottenchester 5073 at
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)

]]> Polls Thu, 09 Oct 2008 20:41:24 +0000 Rottenchester 5055 at
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)

]]> Polls Tue, 07 Oct 2008 10:23:22 +0000 Rottenchester 5042 at
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.

]]> Polls Mon, 06 Oct 2008 18:17:57 +0000 Rottenchester 5040 at
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.
]]> Audio Polls WNYCongress Tue, 13 May 2008 11:56:53 +0000 Rottenchester 4772 at
Morning Roundup 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.
]]> News Polls Thu, 18 Oct 2007 12:27:20 +0000 Rottenchester 4514 at
USA Today S-CHIP Poll Randy Kuhl's blog, and the Ontario GOP blog, take encouragement from a USA Today/Gallup poll on S-CHIP.  Both note that a majority of those polled (55%) said they were "somewhat concerned" (33%) or "very concerned" (22%) that S-CHIP would be an incentive for the middle class to drop private health insurance.   And another majority (52%) preferred Bush's plan to limit S-CHIP to a family of 4 making less than $41K, versus the Democrats' plan to make the upper limit $61K.

Both Kuhl the the Ontario GOP omit another interesting statistic from that poll.  When asked who they trust to get S-CHIP right, 52% say that they trust the Democrats.  Only 32% trust the President.   Another interesting fact:  17% of the respondents were following S-CHIP "very closely", and 34% "somewhat closely".  Almost half of the public (49%) are following the issue "not too closely" or "not at all".

So, when a generally uninformed public is presented specific facts on S-CHIP, they tend to agree with Republicans.  When those facts are absent, their general distrust of the President governs their opinions.  The news on S-CHIP could be worse, but this certainly doesn't qualify as good news for Republicans.

Also, it's interesting to see Republicans in the same position where Democrats usually find themselves.  The Republicans' position is based on a careful reading of the details.  Democrats are aiming straight for the gut.  When half of the public doesn't really care, the gut carries the day.

Update:  Via, here's the Gallup writeup on the poll.
]]> Analysis Polls Wed, 17 Oct 2007 00:55:46 +0000 Rottenchester 4510 at
Numerology There's been a lot of poll analysis in the last couple of weeks. Today, posted a discussion of where their method of averaging available polls failed. The 29th was one of those races. No particular conclusions were drawn about the 29th, but it is clear that this district was very lightly polled. When there's hardly any data to start with, any average is going to be more suspect.

Turning to the actual polls, Rochesterturning has been posting graphical interpretations of election results. Today's post shows that a significantly smaller percentage of voters voted for Kuhl in 2006 than in 2004 in almost every county. This is especially interesting because the Conservative party fielded a candidate in 2004, as did the Independence party. Both of those candidates should have taken some votes from Kuhl in '04 that he regained in '06. In this analysis, and the other county-by-county post, keep in mind that the graphs are unweighted. So, for example, when you see that Kuhl lost roughly 15% of his vote in Yates county, remember that Yates had just under 7,000 votes cast in 2006. The 29th had about 200,000 voters in '06.

Rochesterturning also looked at correlations between census data and voting patterns. They found a positive relationship between income, education and a tendency to vote for Eric Massa. There are two ways to interpret this data. A partisan spin for Democrats is that smart people voted for Massa. Republicans could argue that the Democrats are turning into the party of the elites, rather than the party of the "average working man". I don't buy that. I agree with RT that those numbers show that more educated people are more likely to inform themselves about the candidates in an election, and therefore are more likely to vote for a less-well-known challenger like Massa. Also, the income split mirrors the North/South split in the 29th, with Monroe being the most wealthy county. By registration, that county is also the most Democratic of the bunch.

]]> Polls Thu, 30 Nov 2006 12:05:19 +0000 Rottenchester 4210 at
Massa 53%, Kuhl 42% A new Majority Watch poll in the 29th, taken from October 24 to October 26 and released today, shows little movement from the last poll taken ten days earlier (52%/40%).  The crosstabs [pdf] are almost identical to the last one, and the same grim conclusions can be drawn for the Kuhl campaign. 

Looking through the races at's House page, it looks like NY-20 is still one of the area races where Majority Watch and other pollsters disagree.  In that more heavily polled race, Majority Watch leans farther toward the Democrat, Kirsten Gillibrand, than even her own polls.  Yet there are a number of other races were Majority Watch is consistent with other non-partisan polls.  So this one could be dead on, or out to lunch.  We'll find out a week from tomorrow.

]]> Polls Tue, 31 Oct 2006 02:44:04 +0000 Rottenchester 4166 at
Another Left-Wing Conspiracy Kuhl's spokesman, Bob VanWicklin, spins wildly on the Majority Watch poll:

It's a left-leaning group. I wouldn't call them independent. They're a group that wants to see a Democratic majority in Congress, from what I understand.

Majority Watch is a project of Constituent Dynamics and RT Strategies.  Constituent Dynamics is a recently established polling company trying to perfect IVR polls, or robo-polling.  RT is a joint project of one Democrat and one Republican.  They're the same firm that does polling for independent, well-respected political analyst Charlie Cook.  Many have called their polls wrong, nobody's called them biased.

And we don't know anything about the methodology of the poll, other than the little information they gave, so we're sort of skeptical about the questions they may have asked, or how they asked them.

A full discussion of methodology, as well as every question asked in the poll [pdf], is easily accessible on the Majority Watch site.  As for how the questions are asked, it's a robo-poll, so every question is asked the same way by a pre-recorded voice.

It doesn't at all compute with any of our internal polling [...] So we'll just sort of discount it.

Finally, after two heaping helpings of bullshit, a little bit of truthful spin.  I expect spin from a flack, but Mr. VanWicklin's bull-to-spin ratio is chronically high. 

]]> Analysis Polls Sat, 21 Oct 2006 22:06:05 +0000 Rottenchester 4135 at
More Majority Watch Skepticism As noted in this morning's earlier post, NY-20 was the major outlier in the races where other polls could be compared to Majority Watch's work.  Today's Siena Poll in that race adds more reason for skepticism.  It shows Gillibrand trailing Sweeney by 14 points.  The Majority Watch poll, taken around the same time, shows her ahead by 13, a 27-point spread.

]]> Polls Thu, 19 Oct 2006 15:56:06 +0000 Rottenchester 4132 at
Majority Watch vs Other Pollsters Is Majority Watch full of crazy talk?  That seems to be the theme of some postings here and on other blogs.  While keeping in mind that old chestnut "the only poll that matters is on election day", let's look how Majority Watch polls stack up in 8 9 other contested districts with multiple recent polls.

It looks like there are three four districts where Majority Watch is in the ballpark:

  • IL-06:  MW calls it Duckworth (D) by 5.  Other recent polls are tied or Duckworth by 5.
  • MN-06:  This is the Wetterling race, the mother of an abducted child who gave the Democrats' radio address on the first weekend of the Foley scandal.  Polls taken early in the month show Bachmann (R) by 3.  The MW poll taken on 10/12 shows Wetterling by 5.  A newspaper poll taken 10/16 shows Wetterling by 8.
  • NM-01:  In this heavily polled race, both MW polls are squarely in the middle of the other polls.
  • WA-08: MW is within a couple of points of a recent SurveyUSA poll, and both show Reichert (R) with a slim lead.

Here are races that have only partisan comparison polling, but MW seems reasonable:

  • CT-05:  MW has Johnson (R) by 6.  The other polls are all partisan, with the Republican poll showing the Republican by 10, and the Democratic poll showing the Democrat by 1 or by 5.
  • FL-13:  The Democratic poll has Jennings (D) up by 8 last month and 12 this month.  MW has him up by 3 last week.

Here are some districts where MW may be an outlier:

  • CO-07:  MW has it as a tie.  Other recent surveys have Perlmutter (D) up by 6 or 11.
  • NY-20:  Gillibrand's (D) own poll has her up by 1.  MW's, taken two days later, has her up by 13.
  • NY-26:  MW's Davis (D) by 16 is the widest margin so far, even though Zogby's poll taken at about the same time has Davis by 15.

Other than NY-20, I don't see a poll where Majority Watch looks way out of sync with the rest of the professional pollsters.  But, as with the first poll in this post, I recommend that all readers who are interested in polls read the excellent analysis at, which makes it clear that polling in House races is far less accurate than Presidential race polling.

(Update:  Forgot WA-08)

]]> Analysis Polls Thu, 19 Oct 2006 12:41:14 +0000 Rottenchester 4131 at
Majority Watch in Depth The crosstabs [pdf] for the Majority Watch poll show how important the Monroe/Ontario suburbs (the "Volvo-Donut") are to the Massa effort. Majority Watch divides the district into the North (Monroe and Ontario) and the South (the rest). In the North, Massa leads Kuhl by 26 points. In the South, Massa's ahead by one percent.

According to this poll, everything's worse for for Kuhl in the North. The "voter motivation index", which measures how likely it is that voters are going to vote, is the highest in there (7.76/9.0). Voters in the North are the most certain in their choice (83%), and the least pleased (67%) with the job that Bush is doing.

Overall, the bad news keeps on coming for Kuhl. 82% of voters in the entire district are "certain" in their choice. Only 9% of the voters are undecided. The voter motivation index for Massa voters is higher than that of Kuhl voters. Democrats are more motivated to vote than Republicans.

With undecided, certainty and motivation numbers like these, it's hard to see light at the end of the tunnel for the Kuhl campaign. If this survey is right, voters in the 29th have made up their minds, they've chosen Massa, and they're going to vote that choice.

]]> Polls Thu, 19 Oct 2006 01:13:49 +0000 Rottenchester 4130 at
Massa 52% Kuhl 40% Majority Watch, an independent, non-partisan polling project, has Eric Massa leading Randy Kuhl by 12 points in a poll taken Sunday and Monday in the 29th. The poll uses IVR (touch tone response) technology and has a margin of error of 3%.

This is the first year of the Majority Watch polling project, the methodology hasn't been proven, and House races are hard to poll.  Nevertheless, this is huge news for the Massa campaign. 

Full crosstabs [pdf] are available and worth a closer look.

]]> Polls Wed, 18 Oct 2006 22:41:05 +0000 Rottenchester 4129 at
Voice of the Voter The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle's new poll asked one question of interest to the race in the 29th: "Will your view of the war in Iraq or feelings for President Bush play a role in your choices in the 2006 election?" 58% said "major", 24% said "minor", and 18% said "no".

]]> Polls Sun, 08 Oct 2006 14:47:38 +0000 Rottenchester 4107 at
Rothenberg on Democratic Polls Non-partisan political analyst Stuart Rothenberg pours cold water on positive Democratic polling reports from second-tier races, especially in nearby NY-25. Since the Massa campaign has just released a poll similar to those he discusses, his article is worth a read. Rothenberg thinks that these polls merely reflect a generic desire for change, and that there's no solid evidence that the challengers are gaining any momentum.

Some of what he says about NY-25 is applicable to the poll released this weekend by the Massa campaign. Massa's name recognition is relatively low, so many voters might just be for him as a "generic" Democrat. But, unlike the 25th, Kuhl's negatives are pretty high: 38% negative on him as a person, 47% negative on his job performance. That means that generic voter dissatisfaction might be transmitted as a specific vote against Kuhl.

Rothenberg's advice to incumbents in these races is to "pound away" at challengers, making them the issue.

]]> Polls Mon, 02 Oct 2006 12:29:11 +0000 Rottenchester 4089 at