Campaign Classics

Tales From the Trail About Green, Zogby, Powers, and Zuckerman

The Post's Double Vision
Inside a GOP Destroyer
Mort Zuckerman's Muslim Jihad

Mark Green, lifelong friend of Ralph Nader and 2001 mayoral candidate, helped arrange Nader's preelection appearance at Al Sharpton's National Action Network. At a Della Femina dinner a couple of weeks before the election, Nader's presidential candidacy came up, and Green offered, according to sources, to help get them together.

John Zogby: He polled so many "undecideds," he became one.
photo: courtesy of Zogby International
John Zogby: He polled so many "undecideds," he became one.

Nader wound up appearing at Sharpton's Harlem headquarters a day before the election, an unusual and newsworthy foray into the black community for a candidate with little minority appeal. An aide to Green conceded that the two had discussed Nader at the dinner, adding that Green "left Nader's phone number on Sharpton's voice mail."

The aide said that Green, a strong Gore supporter who's made much of his early attempts to convince his mentor Nader not to run, was "encouraging Nader to campaign in cities rather than swing states."

Nader said that "both Mark and Sharpton told me about their dinner." He said Green indicated to him that Sharpton "was pretty much an accepted figure in New York," and that "Hillary Clinton and Bill Bradley had participated in Sharpton's forums." Nader contended that Green "did not facilitate" the event beyond this conversation, which apparently reassured Nader. Up to then, Nader said he had been unable to schedule a Sharpton appearance.

Sharpton was reportedly interested in building bridges to Nader as part of what he sees as his ongoing leadership competition with Jesse Jackson, who Sharpton regards as too tied to Gore and the national Democratic leadership. Sharpton has talked about running for mayor again—a possibility that would be damaging to Green's chances.

Since Nader may cost Gore the election, any Green actions on Nader's behalf could hurt the Public Advocate when he runs next November.

The Post's Double Vision

John Zogby, the intrepid New York Post pollster who picked Al D'Amato to beat Chuck Schumer in 1998, found a way to be right no matter who won this year's Senate race. His election-day tracking poll, completed on Monday and printed Tuesday, picked Rick Lazio to win in the paper's Metro edition and Hillary Clinton in the Late City Final edition. The early edition had Lazio up 49.5 percent to Hillary's 48.6 percent, saying he had "made strides in recent days," which Zogby attributed to "three days of nonstop campaigning in upstate New York." That edition is distributed upstate, as well as in some areas of the suburbs and city.

The later edition said Hillary Clinton was ahead 50.8 to Lazio's 48.1, a 3.6 swing achieved in a matter of hours. The Post would not answer Voice questions about when the editions are published, but sources at the paper indicated that Zogby sent the Lazio numbers in around 3 p.m. and the Clinton numbers in at 10 p.m. Under the same "neck and neck at the finish line" headline as the first story, the second poll included 20 more voters. Though it featured a chart showing the day-to-day results of Zogby polls since July, the city edition story made no reference to the Lazio win anticipated in the early edition.

Zogby, whose capable national polls for Reuters/Fox were one of the few that had Al Gore slightly ahead in the popular vote, has missed badly in recent New York races. His Utica-based polling company predicted a 29-point Rudy Giuliani win in the 1997 mayoral election, almost twice the margin. His D'Amato call was 11 points off the mark, as was his Clinton call this year (his Lazio pick was a 13-point miss). Incredibly, Zogby had Lazio ahead by 5 points a week before the election, an astounding 17-point miscalculation. On the other hand, the Quinnipiac poll nearly hit the Schumer 10-point and Clinton 12-point margins, and several other pollsters, from Marist to Blum/Weprin to the Times/CBS, consistently anticipated Hillary's win.

Zogby's last-day performance was as erratic as his earlier polls, which put Lazio ahead for the first time on October 20, and kept him there in daily results from October 29 through November 2. Then Clinton suddenly leapt to a 6.5 point lead four days before the election, only to watch her lead theoretically disappear again by Tuesday.

The Zogby phenomenon of a late Republican surge has become such a welcome feature of Post coverage that the paper put the pollster's best Lazio numbers on the front page twice, transparently trying to trigger a momentum the candidate couldn't create himself.

Clinton's big lead, on the other hand, was buried on page six. Unlike Zogby's usually reliable national work, his New York results appear almost designed to dovetail with the Post's preelection frenzy for local GOP candidates.

Zogby has also been careless about appearances—collecting $54,000 in payments from the 1997 Giuliani campaign after polling the race for the Post, and picking up another $5000 this year from the State Republican Committee while polling the senate race. These payments are an unusual and awkward conflict for a supposedly independent public pollster, especially in view of his GOP polling predilections for the Post.

Inside a GOP Destroyer

The biggest GOP winner in New York, State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, is also the staunchest ally of the biggest GOP loser, Bill Powers, the ex-marine who's run the state party for a decade. Bruno will do his best to protect Powers should Governor Pataki press to remove him.

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