About that Poll Showing Maffei Leading Buerkle By 12 Points


Take the Post Standard/Siena College poll of NY25 voters with a grain of salt. The poll shows Maffei leading Buerkle by 12 points. 

The Post Standard reported.

Maffei, D-DeWitt, receives his strongest support from women and voters over age 55, according to the poll, the first independent survey of likely voters in the district.

Central New York voters overwhelmingly said jobs are the top issue this election, and that Maffei is the best candidate to represent them on the issue in Congress.

When asked who they would vote for today, likely voters favored Maffei over Buerkle, 51 percent to 39 percent, the poll found. About 10 percent of the voters were undecided.

“There’s no question that at 51-39, this race is not over,” said Siena pollster Steve Greenberg, noting that undecided voters traditionally favor the challenger. “Would I rather be sitting with a 12-point lead right now? Absolutely.”

There are multiple reasons to be suspicious of this poll. It shows no difference between voters in Onondaga County, which includes the more liberal city of Syracuse, than voters in the more conservative counties. We also don’t know whether the poll oversampled Democrats. This is what they tell us about the sample:

“Although this district – and the likely voters in this survey – is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, Andrew Cuomo has an overwhelming 34-point lead over Carl Paladino.

And this:

This Syracuse Post-Standard/Siena College 25th C.D. survey was conducted October 10-12, 2010 by telephone calls to 623 likely voters drawn from 805 registered voter households. A stringent likely voter screen was applied to the sample of registered voters that had been statistically adjusted to reflect party registration and age. It has a margin of error of + 3.9 percentage points.

So really, all we have to go by is Siena’s track record in past contests. The most recent would be the New York Republican gubernatorial primary.

On September 11, 2010, Siena released the results of their poll, showing Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino in a dead heat.

Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino are locked in a virtual dead heat (Lazio leads 43-42 percent) for the Republican nomination for Governor…

On September 14, 2010 Paladino trounced Lazio in the primary election.

With 89 percent of precincts reporting, Paladino had 63 percent of the vote to Lazio’s 37 percent.

In the biggest primary race in New York State Siena didn’t even come close. They were off by a whopping 21%!


I contacted Post Standard reporter Mark Weiner asking for the breakdown of the registration of the voters sampled.  I received his reply just as I was about to publish this post:

The sample is a mirror of district enrollment, which was then screened for likely voters.

We still don’t have the numbers. We’re supposed to take the word of the pollster that Democrats weren’t oversampled.

I guess it’s safe to assume this Siena poll is meaningless.

Update: Stacy McCain and Da TechGuy are on their way to cover the NY25 race. Stacy predicts Ann Marie will win by a landslide. That’s the spirit.

The Camp of the Saints linked.