Guest View: Trump and Biden deadlocked in NY-22 district – Utica Observer Dispatch

President Trump and Joe Biden are virtually even in NY-22, per new polling by the Siena Research Institute, the only scientific, publically available polling of the district.

In 2016, Trump won every county, including Oneida County, 56 percent to 37 percent, on his way to a 15-point victory. Biden currently has a 1-point lead over Trump, 45 percent to 44 percent, with a 5-point margin of error.

Partisanship is the biggest predictor of who people vote for, yet 20 percent of NY-22 Republicans have an unfavorable view of President Trump, the same amount that will vote for Biden.

Voter preferences break sharply around gender and college education. Men and non-college graduates prefer Trump, while women and college graduates prefer Biden.

Trump is leading Oneida County, 50 percent to 39 percent, an 8-point drop from 2016. Biden is winning the rest of the district by 6 points. This suggests 2020 is more likely to resemble 2012, when Mitt Romney narrowly won NY-22, than 2016.  

The COVID pandemic and economic recession present a difficult national political climate for an incumbent president. More than 70 percent of voters around the country are worried about being infected with COVID. More than 60 percent believe President Trump failed to take appropriate precautions and distrust the president’s comments about the virus.

Most voters approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, 51 percent to 47 percent on average over the last month. Experiences influence perceptions. Trump voters are less likely to have experienced job or income loss than Democratic or Independent voters as the recession impacted low wage, minority workers most severely.

Just 1 in 3 Americans approve of the president’s main legislative accomplishment, The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office contended the law would increase GDP by 0.7 percent over 10 years, while increasing U.S. debt by $1.6 to $2.2 trillion. Neither is helpful as GDP fell 5 percent in the first quarter of 2020, and more than 30 percent in the second, while national debt rose 68 percent under Trump’s tenure pre-COVID.

The president’s diminished popularity here is part of a larger trend upstate. Trump impressively won all but a handful of counties West and North of Albany in 2016. 60 percent of upstate New Yorker’s now view President Trump unfavorably and believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, including 40 percent of upstate Republicans.

Unlike 2016, Trump has a record in government voters can evaluate, and is no longer facing Hillary Clinton, a historically unpopular presidential candidate, with high negative ratings upstate.

Trump’s 2020 campaign has complicated the reelection path for three-term GOP Congressman John Katko in NY-24, and now Republican challenger Claudia Tenney in NY-22, who has closely aligned herself with the president.  

The Siena poll also found that Rep. Anthony Brindisi has a 9-point lead among NY-22 voters, after a narrow victory in 2018. Brindisi’s coalition consists of Democrats (+69 points), young adults (+31), women (+21), college graduates (+21), independents (+14), and people 55 and older (+12), plus support from 20 percent of Republicans.

Most NY-22 voters now view Tenney unfavorably, a major challenge for her campaign, while most view Brindisi favorably.

A Trump-related boost seems unlikely for Tenney. The president may serve as a drag on the ticket as disaffected Republicans pass on voting for them both.

Luke Perry is professor of political science at Utica College and director of the Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research.

Perry

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