Siena Poll: Aubertine Holds Lead In Senate Race

Darrel Aubertine continues to hold a double-digit lead in the 48th district State Senate race, according to a poll released Sunday by Siena College’s Research Institute.  (Full poll crosstabs here.)

The poll shows that Republican challenger Dave Renzi has eaten into the 20-point lead Siena found in September, but his own negatives have risen sharply.

Aubertine’s lead is 11 points in the survey of 454 registered voters in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties from October 29 – November 1.  His 49%-38% lead remains solid, though it is significantly less than it was when Siena found a 51%-31% Aubertine advantage in September, the only other poll of this key race.

Their multi-million dollar campaign is one of a handful of Senate races this year that will determine whether Republicans continue to hang on to control of the body, or lose it for the first time in decades to the Democrats.  Democrat Aubertine won the seat in a special election to replace Republican Jim Wright, who retired to take a job as a lobbyist and consultant.  Renzi is trying to win it back.

The candidates have spent the last couple of months sending wave after wave of ads targeting their opponent for allegations of ethical lapses.  Renzi focused on Aubertine’s admitted hiring of his sister; Aubertine hit Renzi over a public pension allegation.  The negative focus has taken a toll on both mens’ favorability ratings, but Renzi suffered the greater loss.

Aubertine saw his favorable rating fall four points, from 58% to 54%, from September to November, while his unfavorable rating rose from 21% to 31%.  Renzi gained six points in favorability, from 34% to 40%, but saw his unfavorables soar 20 points, from 15% to 35%.

Voters throughout the district favor, by a 41% to 38% margin, keeping the Senate in Republican control.

“Senator Aubertine continues to have a double digit lead and a significantly better favorablity rating than his opponent.  Despite the overwhelming Republican enrollment advantage and the desire of a small plurality of voters to see the Senate remain in Republican control, Aubertine has a considerable lead as this campaign draws to a close,” Siena Institute spokesman Steven Greenberg said.

Oswego County: Renzi’s Base

The race is only close because Renzi has convinced lots of voters in Oswego County that he’s the right choice.  He leads among Oswego County voters, 44% to 37%, but Aubertine has increased his lead in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, to 25 and 30 points, respectively.

There are more Republicans than Democrats in the 48th Senate district and a third of them, according to the poll, support Aubertine.

Democrats are happier with Aubertine (73%/14% favorable/unfavorable) than Republicans are with Renzi (54%/24% fxavorable/unfavorable), the poll says.  44% of Republicans hold a favorable view of Aubertine; only 22% of Democrats hold a favorable view of Renzi.

Aubertine is viewed favorably by 70% of Jefferson County voters, 67% of St. Lawrence County voters, but just 36% of Oswego County voters. Renzi is viewed favorbly by 44% of Jefferson County voters, 39% of Oswego County voters and 35% of St. Lawrence County voters.

President, Governor Rated

The poll indicated voters in the Senate district have changed their minds since September, shifting a majority of votes to Democrat Barack Obama in the race for President.  He holds a 51%-39% lead.  Republican John McCain led in the September survey, 44%-40%.  Obama leads in Oswego County, 51% to 36%, the poll says.  About a quarter of those who say they will vote for Aubertine will also vote for McCain; nealry the same percentage of Renzi voters say they will vote for Obama.

58% of those surveyed have a favorable view of New York Governor David Paterson, who became Governor when Eliot Spitzer resigned amidst a sex scandal.  Only 8% of Democrats hold an unfavorable view, and only 22% of Republicans do, according to the survey.