Mayoral Poll Peril


Comparing two polls is a little like comparing two completely different sets of questions, posed at different times to different groups of different numbers of people. In fact, that’s exactly what comparing two polls is!

So then, what to make of the Quinnipiac poll out today that shows Mayor Bloomy with a 55 percent approval rating and a 13 percent lead over his closest Democratic rival? After all, just 12 days ago, we had a Marist poll telling us that Bloomberg’s approval rating was down to 49 percent and that he had slipped into statistical ties with three Democrats.

Well, those 12 days were crucial. The Marist poll surveyed opinions on June 6-8th, right after the mayor’s defeat over the West Side Stadium. Quinnipiac’s poll was in the field from June 12th through 19th, the period when the mayor unveiled new stadium plans for the Mets and Yankees.

The irascible Maurice “Mickey” Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, says the message of the poll for Bloomberg was “Summertime and the voting looks easy.” The Democrats’ campaigns dispute that, of course, reverting to their standard critique that the mayor’s money is what’s propping up his numbers. “As to the Mayor’s approval rating: if you throw around millions of dollars, like the Mayor has, some of it will stick,” says Virginia Fields in a statement. “But no amount of money can gloss over the fact that Ground Zero has not been redeveloped; that our subways are in a state of utter disrepair; that the Mayor still has no workable plan for the West Side Rail yards; and that unemployment levels have gone up in recent months.”

The question is what the Democrats will do if Bloomberg doesn’t run out of money, which he won’t. Their answer is that when the field is narrowed and the voters and media pay closer attention to the race, the mayor’s financial advantage will be offset. If you accept that argument, then the important numbers in these polls are those pertaining solely to the Democratic field. And here, the Q poll shows . . .

Ferrer 31

Fields 19

Miller 12

Weiner 12


. . . while the Marist poll on June 10 had

Ferrer 38

Fields 24

Miller 13

Weiner 12


The Marist survey has Freddy very close to the magic 40 percent it takes to avoid a runoff. The Q poll, on the other hand, has Fields easily forcing him into a do-over.

The thing is, the Marist poll has 13 percent undecided, while the Q poll has 25 percent either undecided, voting for someone else, or not voting. If you look at the percentages of people who, if voting today, would cast their votes for candidates (which is what counts, after all) Freddy is over 40 percent in both polls, Fields falls in the mid-twenties, and Miller and Weiner hang around in the mid-teens.

What does that mean? It means that the three runners-up have to hope that a) Ferrer’s support is soft and can be whittled down, or b) the undecideds break sharply against Ferrer. With four people in the race, Plan B could be tough.