Peter Feld

The Empire

'I expect Cuomo to engage this race better'

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pollster Peter Feld dissects the numbers from Quinnipiac, showing the popular Democratic attorney general Andrew Cuomo only six points ahead of his little-known Republican rival, Carl Paladino.

Feld says Cuomo will engage, and voters will eventually get past their love affair with the concept of an angry outsider. In the end, Feld ventures Cuomo holds on 54-46 percent:

Here's Feld:

Outside political circles and the Republican base, the electorate hasn't grasped Paladino yet. Not everyone sees the front page of the Daily News and knows he's a nut.

To some extent this represents the partisan structure of New York State right now, including the enthusiasm gap. When you consider the past four years in Albany, it's no shock that Democratic voters (and others) are not enthusiastic about the Democrats - that on top of the national environment. And Cuomo is reaping somewhat the effects of the lengthy non-campaign; he isn't sufficiently differentiated from the current regime.

But GOP voters have grasped Paladino (and obviously, they respond to his message of anger, all the better for being so unfiltered). His pugnacious nature is why he has consolidated his base so quickly. Suppose polls right after the primary showed Cuomo 49%, Paladino 36% - I would still expect a result around 54%-46%, it would just be slower to settle. Paladino has made himself distinctive and hasn't had to spend money to get known.

Paladino's 46% is sure to include a fair number of people who don't really know him, but support him as a generic Republican. I think he has more downside from people getting to know his off-the-wall style (e.g., after those debates he is demanding - unless he pulls a Reagan curveball and shows up totally rational and competent-seeming... then it would be a different race) than upside.

I expect Cuomo to engage this race better, and he can push his number above 50. I will go with 54%-46% or maybe a point or two closer.

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The Empire

Losing the Peter Feld Vote

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pollster Peter Feld, whose brain I often pick, writes about what he says has gone wrong with Reshma Saujani's campaign as she tries ousting incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney:

I don’t really get Reshma’s rationale. I was a respondent in her message-testing poll last spring, and would have leaked it if I were less lazy, but the messages she tested were a hodge-podge. She wanted to run an Obama-style new-generation campaign (boy did this turn out to be the wrong year for that!), although she herself worked for Hillary (nothing wrong with that). Her tested messages were youth and change (uh, yay), her bio as an immigrant (though no one ever listens to me, bio is simply never an effective message in a local election), a pro-immigration message (which is great, but Maloney is not deficient on this issue), and supporting New York’s financial industry, which fits with Reshma’s Wall Street ties but which she has downplayed, since I’m sure it didn’t test well.

If that were all there were to it, we could write Reshma off as a harmless young would-be politician about to get a painful but useful lesson in political reality, because her challenge is doomed. But the above flyer puts Reshma in a different class: the cheerfully dishonest politician who offers no good “change” from what you hate about politics.

To boil down: this flyer accuses Maloney of taking money from “Special Interests She Is Supposed To Regulate,” with a WSJ pull-quote indicating Maloney has held fundraisers while financial reform was being debated in Congress. (The other side of the flyer reproduces an invitation to a Maloney fundraiser in DC on June 23, with a PAC contribution of $2500, headlined by Carole King and James Taylor.)

What it doesn’t say is that Maloney stood firm against Wall Street on the financial reform bill that passed. So while Maloney may have held fundraisers, she did not vote in line with the special interests, she voted against them, and they have criticized her.

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