Halloran, Meng Quibble Over Polls
By ROSS BARKAN
Seeking to spark momentum heading into Election Day, Councilman Dan Halloran’s (R-Whitestone) campaign released a poll that touted a “statistical dead heat” between Halloran and his Congressional opponent, Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing).
The poll, conducted by the firm McLaughlin & Associates, found that 36 percent of respondents in the 6th Congressional district would vote for Meng, while 33 percent would vote for Halloran. Thirty percent are undecided and the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percent. Political observers were skeptical of the results, however, because the 6th District is overwhelmingly Democratic. Having outspent Halloran 10-to-1, Meng is still regarded as the favorite, though the Halloran campaign said he is “well on his way to winning the race.”
“Dan [Halloran] won over Democrats in his Council race and he is doing it again in the heart of Queens,” said Halloran spokesman Kevin Ryan. “Voters know that he will fight to create jobs, help small businesses and reduce gas prices.”
According to the poll, which randomly sampled 300 people, Mitt Romney also leads President Barack Obama 46 percent to 43 percent in the district. Among voters who have heard of both Meng and Halloran, 32 percent would “definitely vote” for Halloran and 22 percent would “definitely vote” for Meng.
The poll did not break down respondents by ethnicity, a point of contention for the Meng campaign. According to their internal polling, Meng leads 51 percent to 22 percent with 27 percent undecided.
“I think we would all like to see the methodology of this survey so that we may see what is obvious: this poll does not represent the diversity or true sensibilities of middle-class voters in Queens,” said Meng spokesman Austin Finan.
Polls of local races are notoriously fickle. A 2008 poll of a race between State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and then State Sen. Serph Maltese, a Republican, said the race was deadlocked a little over a week before Election Day. Addabbo would win by more than 10,000 votes. Gerry O’Brien, a Republican political consultant, said that a sample of 400 to 500 people “at the bare minimum” would be needed for an accurate poll.
“Polls are finicky,” he said. “A lot depends on the questions asked, the universe of who is responding and the way poll is presented to people.”
George Arzt, a Democratic political consultant, dismissed the results of the poll.
“I think Grace [Meng] is very popular,” he said. “She has a much higher i.d. then Halloran has. The poll just doesn’t make sense.”
Reach Reporter Ross Barkan at email@example.com or (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127.