Voters have a higher opinion of incumbent Sen. Hugh Farley than they do of challenger Susan Savage, according to a poll released on Tuesday, Sept. 28, by the Siena College Research Institute.
The poll questioned 400 likely voters in the state’s 44th Senate District from Sept. 22 to 23 and holds a margin of error at +/- 4.9 percent. Of the voters questioned, 59 percent had a favorable opinion of Farley and 35 percent held a favorable opinion of Savage.
[Farley] was very pleased with the results and he is grateful for voter support, said Kelly Cummings, spokeswoman for Farley. `He is not taking anything for granted and he is going to be running in the next five weeks as if only one point separates him from his opponent.`
Travis Proulx, spokesman for Savage, said the poll results were basically what they expected.
`We are running against a 34-year incumbent with enormous name recognition,` said Proulx.
The poll also divided looked at what two different groups of regional voters felt on every question. Schenectady County was separated as its own group with Fulton, Montgomery and Saratoga counties grouped together.
`In this case we felt that Schenectady was a very meaningful stand-alone division,` said Donald Levy, director of Siena Research Institute. `The fact that the course of Savage’s career has been focused entirely on Schenectady we wanted to have the ability to look at Schenectady by itself.`
Savage’s favorable rating was 43 percent in Schenectady County, with 33 percent unfavorable and 24 percent saying they didn’t know or had no opinion. For all of the counties outside of Schenectady, 51 percent said they didn’t know or had no opinion.
`She has a way to go outside of Schenectady getting herself known,` said Levy.
Within Schenectady County, Farley had a 60 percent favorable rating, 32 percent unfavorable and 9 percent for don’t know or no opinion.
`People know [Farley’s] record. He has been fighting hard for the people of his district,` said Cummings. `If you look at Schenectady County as far as Susan Savage even in her home base, Senator Farley is beating her.`
When respondents were asked how they would vote if the election were held today, 55 percent said they would elect Farley and 37 percent said they would elect Savage. When respondents were asked if they would vote to re-elect Farley or prefer someone else, 46 percent said they would re-elect Farley.
`The 46 percent to re-elect is a little bit weak,` said Levy. `There is clearly an anti-incumbent feeling amongst voters. For Farley to essentially hit the break-even point, that is essentially not bad.`
Proulx said New Yorkers typically don’t like to vote out incumbents, but the Senate district has undergone serious changes.
Levy isn’t sure district voters are ready to vote out Farley.
`This district seems to be saying right now we prefer to elect a Republican incumbent,` said Levy.
The poll also asked respondents what issue is the most important to them and what they would prefer their senator work on. Levy said the issues were chosen by looking at what issues were important to voters over the last few years.
Creating jobs was the overall most important issue with 26 percent. Respondents who identified themselves as Independents or other supported creating job at 34 percent, and Democrats questioned were in line with the average.
The most important issue to Republicans was government reform, but Levy said he thought it stood out how Republicans were across the board on what issue they felt were important.“