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Siena Poll: Faso, Teachout Widen Strong Leads Ahead Of NY Primary

Former Assemblyman John Faso and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout hold commanding leads in a new Time Warner-Siena College poll released on the eve of New York's 19th district Congressional primary.

Republican Congressman Chris Gibson is not seeking another term, making his seat a plum target for both political parties.  Zephyr Teachout of Clinton, Dutchess County and Will Yandik from the Town of Livingston in Columbia County, appear on Democratic ballots.  John Faso of Kinderhook in Columbia County and Andrew Heaney of Millbrook in Dutchess are on the Republican line.

Previous surveys showed Teachout and Faso with significant leads over their opponents.

The new Time Warner Cable News/Siena Research Institute shows both candidates forging father ahead. Siena pollster Steve Greenberg:  "Teachout leads Will Yandik by 62 to 23 percent among likely Democratic primary voters, a 39-point lead up from a 30-point lead three weeks ago. And on the Republican side, John Faso leads Heaney by 30 points, 58 percent of likely Republicans say they're with John Faso, 28 percent say they're with Andrew Heaney. And just three weeks ago, 28 percent say they're with Andrew Heaney. Faso had a 22-point lead, that's now up to 30 points, so what we see are prohibitive favorites heading into primary day in the 19th CD."

Greenberg notes that Teachout is extraordinarily popular with Democratic primary voters, while Faso is well-liked by Republican voters. That doesn't seem to bode well for their opponents.

"More than 40 percent of likely voters don't know enough about Yandik to even have an opinion about him. And on the Republican side, John Faso is liked by Republican voters. 55 percent have a favorable view of Faso, compared to 25 percent who have an unfavorable view. Just three weeks ago Faso was at 47 percent favorable, so he's up 8 points on the good side. Heaney, 29 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable. So, by 18 points Heaney is underwater with Republican primary voters, and that may explain why John Faso has such a big lead."

Faso, a former Assembly Minority Leader and gubernatorial candidate, sounds confident heading into Tuesday.  "I'm gratified by the support that I've received throughout the district, all 11 counties. And in the polls, including the latest Siena poll, which seems to echo what I'm hearing from constituents out there. What I'm also hearing from people is that they have genuine concerns about the economy, national security, and the direction in which our country is headed."

A statement issued by Heaney's campaign says in part, "Siena polls have a notable and recent poor track record predicting outcomes in low turnout elections." - and -  "Polls go up. Polls go down, and the only poll that matters is on Election Day. But releasing the Time Warner sponsored Siena poll, literally a day before an election, is in a word irresponsible and a grave disservice to the voters of the 19th Congressional District."

Pollster Greenberg admitted primaries are low turnout elections. "It'll really depend which, you know, campaigns do the best job of getting their voters to the polls tomorrow. But it does certainly seem that Yandik and Heaney have their work cut out for them if they wanna announce come-from-behind victories this late in the game."

The poll asked voters "Who is running a more negative campaign?" Again, Greenberg: "Overwhelmingly, by better than 2 to 1, Republican primary voters say Heaney is the one running the more negative campaign. 43 percent of voters say that, compared to 21 percent who say it's Faso who is running the more negative campaign. The Democratic voters in the 19th CD don't think anybody is running a negative campaign. 12 percent said it is Yandik, 6 percent said it's Teachout."

The poll did not question voters regarding a direct Teachout vs. Faso race.

Yandik's campaign manager Tony Coppola says in an email that their camp isn't worried about polling; they plan to keep knocking on doors and making phone calls.  Teachout is taking a similar stance. "I am not paying attention to polls. We are focusing on earning every single vote for tomorrow's primary. The voters are the ones who make the decision, not the pollsters."

Polls are open from 12 p.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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