The Polls Predict Who Will Come To The Polls
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
I do not rely heavily on political polls. They indicate trends, not outcomes.
When poll results are heavily one-sided, perhaps it’s fair to conclude an outcome, but polls are taken to determine how to move the electorate. The poll is merely a snapshot in time indicating how the electorate felt at that moment.
The next moment, the professional opinion manipulators creative teams, printers, production teams, ad buyers, direct mailers, and politicians inhale in the polls and exhale that which they believe will move the electorate in their direction.
We can learn from a poll. What must be done to convince the electorate that . . .?
sk the right question, spot the all-important trend and you might have the tools to sway the electorate to change its mind or further increase the spread.
With that poll primer out of the way, there is one trend out there that I believe is worthy of everyone’s focus. This is not my great discovery but merely my attempt to concretize what many pundits have been talking about.
Turnout! Who will show up at the polls this coming Election Day?
As you read the pundits or hear the talking heads on “will the control of Congress change,” or on a more local level, “will the NYS Senate go Republican” or “will any incumbent lose,” the questions, in my judgment, will not be decided by changing voter’s minds but by who comes out to vote.
While Independents (not the Independence Party but those not registered in any party) are truly the swing vote in many elections and are likely to vote slightly in favor of the party out-of-power during a recession, nationwide, considering all potential voters, there is not a great disparity between those who like the blue and those who like the red.
If everyone registered came out to vote, both Houses of Congress would remain very much as they are now. In New York State, if everyone registered came out to vote, the Democrats would likely dominate everywhere.
But everyone is not going to show up at the polls.
Recent polls however do tell us who would show up if the election were held now.
A recent McClatchy-Marist Poll indicates that about one-third of registered voters nationwide — 33 percent — are very enthusiastic about casting their ballot this November. However, according to the poll: “Republican voters are more excited about their vote than are Democratic voters. 46 percent of Republican voters compared with 30 percent of Democrats are very enthusiastic about voting in the upcoming midterm elections. 23 percent of independent voters also express a high level of enthusiasm.”
While indications are that those independent voters will split slightly toward GOP candidates, if the registered voters in the major party turn out in a 46-30 ratio favoring the Republicans, it will be a landslide Republican victory.
Anything that is “up for grabs” will move to the right. The Senate, the House and the NYS State Senate will go Republican. Any toss up race will go Republican.
It doesn’t sound pretty to me, or to all those Democrats who make their living off the success of the party.
For the Dems, there is consolation. As the Election approaches, even without a campaign, it is likely that those numbers will narrow. The closer the election, the more focused more people get.
But then there are campaigns to be held, and while the Dems will be fighting to hold on to both Houses and the GOP to upset them, there is significant local implication to turnout.
If the 46-30 turnout ratio impacts the state, the GOP will take back the State Senate presently held by the Dems 32-30. (The death of Thomas Morahan has left his traditionally Republican seat vacant, but we are assuming for this analysis that the GOP will recapture it.)
In Queens, there are two State Senate seats being targeted by both parties. This writer, without turnout data, would predict that the two incumbents hold their seats – Republican Frank Padavan should easily beat back a challenge by Dem Tony Avella in the 11th District, while Democrat Joe Addabbo Jr., should overcome the challenge of Republican Anthony Como in the 15th. However, should a significantly greater percent of Republicans than Democrats turnout, the GOP could win both seats.
In addition to the Queens 15th district, there are two Long Island seats and two upstate seats that could also go Republican. That five-seat swing would give the GOP an eight seat advantage.
So the political pros are at work focusing as much or more on turning out their vote as changing the voters’ minds.
In a turnout landslide, even once seemingly invulnerable Andrew Cuomo could be outpaced by the latest showman to enter the political scene, Carl Paladino.
However, when the pros are done spending the fortunes that will be spent, you can be pretty sure that the difference will be narrowed significantly.
But right now, it looks pretty clear that nationwide and in the New York State Senate, the Republicans stand to gain.
Democrats, start your engines.MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
Disgraced Hevesi Plea Bargaining, Cuomo Gets His Man
By HENRY STERN
Election Day is 26 days away, and people are slowly beginning to pay attention to the contests.
The recent buzz about Alan Hevesi, who appears poised to plead guilty in the NYS Pension Case scandal, indicates a possible conclusion to an investigation which has been underway for more than three years. We believe Hevesi is guilty of much of what he has been accused of, even though it is unclear just what crimes, if any, he has committed. However, we do find the timing of the proposed plea bargain to be less than perfect.
On the one hand, the Attorney General could be wrapping up matters, clearing the docket before he leaves office in December. On the other hand, as The Times reported last week: “The deal comes as Mr. Cuomo, the Democratic nominee for governor, is seeking to burnish his credentials as a reformer who can clean up state government, and his office has been in plea negotiations with Mr. Hevesi’s lawyer.”
It is true that some damaging evidence came to light relatively late in the protracted investigation. The Times’ story gets to the heart of this change:
“Last December, a California money manager, Elliott Broidy, admitted paying nearly $1 million in gifts in exchange for a $250 million investment from the pension fund. Mr. Broidy, according to the attorney general’s office, paid at least $75,000 to send a ‘very high-ranking’ official in the comptroller’s office and the official’s relatives on five trips to Israel . . . The high-ranking official was Mr. Hevesi, people with knowledge of the investigation have said.”
A powerful inducement for Mr. Hevesi to plead guilty is revealed in the story. We quote:
“But the activities of Mr. Hevesi’s sons have also drawn scrutiny: investigators have questioned why an obscure firm operated by Daniel Hevesi was paid more than $1 million in fees for deals with pension funds in New York City and New Mexico, and whether any legitimate work was done for the payments.
“Andrew Hevesi had more limited exposure in the case: prosecutors say a former Liberal Party boss in the state, Raymond B. Harding, maneuvered to force a vacancy in an Assembly seat in Queens so that Andrew Hevesi could assume the position. Mr. Harding pleaded guilty last year after accepting more than $800,000 for doing political favors, prosecutors said, including a private job for Andrew Hevesi’s Assembly predecessor, Michael Cohen.”
It’s a well-known prosecutorial tool to threaten to bring cases against a defendant’s family members in order to induce a plea bargain. It usually only works if the family members have themselves committed crimes. In this case, although Daniel Hevesi received substantial sums, there is no evidence that he did legitimate work to earn them. He is vulnerable.
Andrew Hevesi is not accused of wrongdoing. It is not a crime to run for a vacant Assembly seat, and it is not a crime for someone to create a vacancy, unless he shoots or threatens the incumbent. Finding a man another job is conventional political behavior, not noble but not criminal.
When Alan Hevesi was embarrassed, and eventually pleaded guilty to a felony count for using a state car to transport his ailing wife and a state employee to care for her, we defended Hevesi, saying those misdeeds did not justify his removal from office, but if further wrongdoing were to be proven, he should forfeit his position. Now we know that he was guilty of serious wrongdoing, far beyond his misuse of the car and driver.
Alan Hevesi is a very intelligent man, a Ph.D, a college professor, the beneficiary of multiple pensions (from the Legislature and the City University) while he was earning an unduly modest $150,000 salary as Comptroller.
Since his downfall, other stories about him have emerged, which we will not repeat. Rule 18-S: “Don’t spread the stain.”
It is remarkable, but not unprecedented, that a person of such ability and political astuteness should turn out to be so unethical. It was different with Donald Manes, the late Queens Borough President, who always seemed to be a rascal, although he was not known as a thief. Hevesi is the man who first won the City Comptroller’s office in 1993, in a campaign run by Hank Morris, who ran television commercial’s denouncing Elizabeth Holtzman’s ethics over accepting a bank loan which was later repaid.
If those who are considered in the top tier of politicians turn out to be crooks, what does that indicate about the rest of them? That is one reason for the loss of confidence in government, and the rise of demagogues who feed on the low regard for public officials that many New Yorkers feel, with some degree of justification.
Oliver Goldsmith, in his poem, “The Deserted Village” (1770), wrote:
“Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay”
Two hundred forty years later, Goldsmith’s words make sense.StarQuest@NYCivic.org