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Siena Poll: Aubertine Has Large Lead Over Renzi

Siena College has released the first poll of six key State Senate races, including the race for the 48th Senate district here.  The poll shows that incumbent Democrat Darrel Aubertine holds a very large lead over Republican Dave Renzi, with six long weeks to go until election day.

The poll was conducted by Siena’s Research Institute from September 11 – 17.  437 people in the 48th district who said they were registered voters and were likely to vote were polled.  The margin of error is fairly high, at 4.7%.  Aubertine’s lead in the poll is far beyond the margin of error, however.

In a news release, Siena had this to say about the race in the 48th:

Aubertine has a 20-point, 51-31 percent lead over Renzi. Aubertine leads among Democrats 78-10 percent, and trails with Republicans, who account for about half of the voters in the district, 41-37 percent. Aubertine has a small lead, 41-37 percent, among independent voters. Renzi trails by at least 16 points in each county.

Aubertine is viewed favorably by 58 percent of voters, including 52 percent of Republicans, and unfavorably by 21 percent of voters. One in five voters has no opinion. He has a two-to-one favorable rating in Oswego County, three-to-one in Jefferson County and four-to-one in St. Lawrence County. Renzi has a 34-15 percent favorable rating, with 51 percent having no opinion.

A plurality of voters think Aubertine would be better on all the issues.

“In this overwhelmingly Republican district, Senator Aubertine is more well known and liked than Renzi. Six weeks is a long time, however, Renzi has a large gap to close to make this race competitive,” Greenberg said.

The two-to-one favorable rating in Oswego County, if true, is a mirror image of the Republican Party’s two-to-one registration advantage and a sign that Aubertine has solidified support among enough Republicans to be a viable candidate in Republican territory.

Renzi, the Watertown lawyer, has plenty of opportunity to make up ground.  Nearly 19% of voters polled in the 48th district are undecided, and half of those polled viewed him neither favorably nor unfavorably, a sign that he’s still not well known in the district.

Drew Mangione, spokesman for Aubertine, said Wednesday after the poll was released, “Today’s poll results show that all of the half-a-million dollars the Senate majority has sent to their candidate here is not going to buy this election.  It also shows clearly that Darrel’s positive message of protecting jobs and working for Central and Northern New York is resonating with the voters.”

Renzi’s camp focused on the poll’s findings that voters in the district say job creation and property taxes are their top two concerns. The poll, the campaign said, “confirms once again the key concerns of voters in Central and Northern New York.

“(Aubertine) has repeatedly voted for reckless budgets that increased spending, taxes and mandates, but also to cut funding for our schools, community groups and local governments.”

Campaign disclosure reports filed recently show that Renzi and state Republicans have spent more than $700,000 to get the candidate in front of people on TV and radio, on yard signs and in direct mail items.  Aubertine and state Democrats have spent far less — a little less than $90,000.  Campaigns often pay for private polling, which they keep secret nearly always.  Those polls often help decide how much money will be spent to campaign, and on which tools.

Republicans are spending about as much money so far as they did earlier this year, in the hard-fought special election, won by Aubertine, to replace longtime Senator, Republican Jim Wright.  The race saw more than $2 million in total spending, including saturation TV, radio and direct mail coverage, to become the most expensive State Senate race ever.  Aubertine defeated Republican Assemblyman Will Barclay of Pulaski.

In addition, Renzi is keeping a busy schedule in the public eye to maximize the amount of free media time he can get, and his campaign sends several press releases, op/eds and photos per day.

Barclay won Oswego County by the normal 2-1 margin, while Aubertine won his home county of Jefferson County by a 2-1 margin.  The votes from the St. Lawrence County part of the district were decisive.  This time, the Siena poll finds Aubertine leading in Oswego County by at least 16 points.

The race is an important part of a statewide trend.  Democrats have slowly taken seats on the State Senate that have been held for decades by Republicans.  Aubertine’s victory put the Democrats just one more conversion away from taking control of the Senate away from Republicans.

Siena polled six key Senate races and found that Republicans have leads outside the margin of error in two of them, while Democrats lead in two races and two others are too close to call.

The only candidate in the six races who polls at above 50% is Aubertine. One of the six seats is an open seat, currently held by a Republican.  That seat, in Erie County, finds former boxer “Baby” Joe Mesi, the Democrat, with a two point lead over the Republican candidate that is within the margin of error.