Poll: Buerkle Performing Well in Oswego County and Rural Areas, But is Dead Even With Maffei Across 24th

Cong. Ann Marie Buerkle (R), Dan Maffei (D), and Ursula Rozum (Green).
Cong. Ann Marie Buerkle (R), Dan Maffei (D), and Ursula Rozum (Green).

A new poll finds the race for Congress between Ann Marie Buerkle and Dan Maffei still too close to call.

Siena Research Institute reported Saturday that Republican Cong. Buerkle and Democratic former Cong. Maffei each have 44% support from likely voters.  Siena’s poll in September found the two contenders tied at 43%. (Detailed poll data here.)

“Seven weeks and millions of dollars later, each candidate has picked up a single point. What was a dead even race in September is still a dead even race three days before voters go to the polls,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg in a news release.

Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum also added a point to her polling total from the first poll, winning support from 8% of those polled.

Normally, an incumbent polling at well under 50% is in significant trouble.  But Rozum’s presence, and the strongly progressive agenda of the Greens, appears to be pulling support disproportionately from Maffei.

7% of Democrats and 13% of independent voters say they’re supporting Rozum, against only 4% of Republicans.  Conservatives have taken notice.  Rozum last week said her campaign had received money from donors who appeared to be regular supporters of conservative Republicans.  She gave the money to good government and election reform groups.

The bruising campaign has done no favor to either candidate.  Maffei is viewed unfavorably by 50% of voters polled in the district, while Buerkle’s unfavorable number is 52%. By comparison, President Barack Obama is viewed positively by 56% of those polled.  Republican Mitt Romney’s favorability is only 44%.

Buerkle’s run for reelection remains an uphill one.  By a 54% to 44% margin, those polled said they would prefer that someone other than Buerkle be reelected.

And there’s the question of whether Rozum’s support will evaporate once people get into the voting booth.  The Gallup polling organization notes that about half of those who say they will support a third party candidate in a poll actually vote for that candidate. Another polling group, Rasmussen Reports, says voters are more likely to vote for a third party candidate when the race between the top two candidates is lopsided.

In general, Maffei does well in the city of Syracuse and in the suburbs of Onondaga County.  Buerkle’s numbers are best in the three other counties — Wayne, Cayuga and the western half of Oswego County — that comprise the rest of the new 24th.

Siena’s polling data does not break down the individual counties, but merely lumps the three rural counties together.

Buerkle beat Maffei two years ago in an election decided many days after Election Day and by a very small margin, driven by an overwhelming Republican turnout in Wayne County.