The Advantage of Polling Well Early
by Anthony Stasi
Mar 07, 2013 | 2315 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In local politics, polls are more difficult to read than on a national or statewide level. The reason for this is that polls are very expensive if conducted properly, and the big polling companies do not take an interest in local politics too often.

A recent poll sponsored by Resorts World Casino has Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. with a lead of more than 10 points over his Democratic opponents in the Queens borough president's race.

It is very difficult to determine how clean (a data person’s word for “accurate”) polls are at the local level. If this poll is close to accurate, however, it means good things for Vallone.

Most of the Democratic field has been visible in Queens politics for a long time. Tony Avella, Leroy Comrie, Jose Peralta, Melinda Katz, and Vallone are well known in their districts. The question you want to know about any poll results is how well a candidate is doing someplace other than their own district.

A few months ago, I wrote about how Vallone was stuck standing virtually alone in the City Council defending the mayor’s stop-and-frisk policy. He was again alone in calling for more police officers.

When a politician stands alone on issues, there is a good chance that people remember his or her name. That could be why he did well in that poll - if the poll was accurate and the data was clean. With only 300 Democrats polled, however, it should have been relatively easy to record the results properly.

The advantage for Vallone, if these results are on the mark, is that he has a good amount of money to spend in the next few months securing more support. If he is polling well, that would make fundraising even easier. This means there is a chance he can go into the late spring with a lot of momentum.

A few months ago, a friend who is a party operative waxed about how interesting it would be to see either Vallone or Avella as borough president, because it would give Queens the kind of executive voice that Brooklyn has enjoyed for years with Marty Markowitz.

That is interesting because Vallone and Avella are competing for some of the same votes: those of centrist Democrats.

It may seem as though Primary Day is a long way away, but it comes up quickly. Get lost back in the pack, and the clock moves faster. If another poll emerges with Vallone at the top, that would signal a clear lead. The fact that he is already doing well with a crowded field, in a city that leans further to his left, means he is in this race to the end.

The issues of public education, discretionary spending, more police officers, and development are what this race will be about. Avella and Vallone will sound similar on some issues as they are both centrists, while the rest of the field will compete for the more progressive Democratic Party votes.

One poll early in a political race is just that: one poll. But if another poll follows with similar results, then we have some real information that we can take to the bank. As it stands, this is very good news for Peter Vallone, Jr.

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