Finally, A Poll

Siena has Louise Slaughter up by 10 points over Maggie Brooks in NY-25. The internals [pdf] are interesting:

  • Louise’s favorables (59%) are higher than Maggie’s (51%). Barack Obama’s favorables (55%) are also higher than Maggie’s, so running an anti-Obama campaign (on Brooks’ part) or running away from Obama (by Slaughter) don’t make a lot of sense.
  • Voters believe Slaughter would do a better job in every category (jobs, health care, education, Afghanistan, taxes and representing Rochester in DC) except the federal deficit, where Brooks has a slight edge.
  • Louise has a 50/39 lead over Brooks among Independents. And Brooks leads Slaughter 50/39 among Independents. 21% of Republicans say they’ll vote for Slaughter, versus 11% of Democrats who support Brooks.
  • Only the Western suburbs favor Brooks (53/43). Slaughter leads in the East (49/45), which is consistent with how those suburbs have voted in other Congressional elections.

Overall, there’s no good news for Brooks in this poll, unless there’s a secret Republican plan to double turnout in Greece and Chili. It’s consistent with the views I’ve expressed here earlier: NY-25 is a Democratic district and Maggie Brooks’ success in low-turnout races doesn’t mean a lot in a Presidential year.

That said, this is just one poll. National polling sites that make incredibly accurate predictions about the Presidential race are powered by hundreds of polls that they combine to limit error. It’s very rare for a Congressional race to get a fraction of the polling attention that even Senate races are getting, so I doubt we’ll see many more polls in this race.

A Lonsberry Decoder Ring

Louise Slaughter has released two ads. The first one was a positive take on jobs and sunk without a trace. The second one was a “negative” ad and got her a bunch of press, including this typically well-done 13WHAM piece by Sean Carroll, which, again, shows that the ad is accurate.

But, as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing better than Bob Lonsberry’s sputtering, meandering column yesterday. Reading it, I wondered if I was reading his take on the race or his effort to show that he’s a big enough drama queen to replace Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model. Here’s a prime example:

Because Louise Slaughter has shown her true colors.

After years of playing the role of the sugary-sweet southern grandmother, she has thrown this race into the gutter with the unleashing of a torrent of attack ads.

In order to understand this, you need your Lonsberry decoder:

Bob Says Normal People Say
Torrent A few sprinkles, if it’s weather, or one advertisement, if it’s politics
Gale A little breeze is ruffling the trees
Flood There are puddles in the street and your feet might get wet.
Armageddon Snowstorm of more than 6 inches.

The rest of Lonsberry’s column is similarly ridiculous. He claims that Slaughter has done nothing for Rochester. What a Member of Congress can “do” for a city is always open to a great deal of interpretation. As far as I can tell, Louise “does” what someone with her level of power and seniority can do for Rochester. A couple of recent examples are working with Schumer to get financing for Hickey-Freeman, and putting an amendment in the Defense Authorization Bill that allowed Harris RF to get a $400 million contract. Anyone can do what Bob does in that column, which is to pick two random projects where “there oughta be a law”, but it takes a special brand of Lonsberry brass to generalize from two projects to “Slaughter does nothing”.

One final point: Bob’s burns about 900 words bemoning the awful state of this race, telling us how desperate the Slaughter campaign is, etc. He claims it’s unfair to blame Brooks for what happened while she was County Exec, but like every other press outlet in Rochester, he wasn’t able to call those ads innacurate, because they aren’t.

Boom Goes Louise’s First “Negative” Ad

Louise Slaughter sets the tone I think we were all expecting with this ad. It’s a laundry list of Maggie Brooks’ scandals. As far as I can tell, it’s accurate, and the Brooks campaign hasn’t disputed the content. Let’s see what Curt Smith says:

Political commentator Curt Smith, a former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, said Slaughter is using the same approach and citing the same issues that Sandra Frankel did when she lost to Brooks last year. He said it’s early for such an ad to appear. “I’m somewhat surprised it is being tried by Louise knowing the approach has failed,” Smith said.

An early negative campaign works when two factors converge — a vulnerable incumbent and an unknown challenger, said Smith and Lovett. Incumbents will jump the gun to depict challengers in a negative light before they can define themselves. But that’s not the case in this race, Smith said.

“The voters do know her opponent,” Smith said. “By and large, every poll and election result shows that voters don’t think of Maggie Brooks as a dishonest person.”

While there has been no recent public polling data on the race, “I think she senses trouble,” Smith said of Slaughter.

This sorry horseshit passes for “analysis” in the Democrat and Chronicle. Curt seems to forget, as usual, that the demographics in this race are completely different from the Brooks/Frankel contest. Of course, data is not Curt’s strong point, so, also as usual, he just makes up “trouble” out of whole cloth, even though no independent polling of this race has been released.

As for the bit of conventional wisdom that negative campaigns only work in the most rarefied of instances, donnez moi un break. The term “negative campaign” is so broad as to be meaningless, and it ignores the substance of the ad.

So let’s put away our smelling salts and look at the content of the ad in the context of this race. Brooks has been running almost entirely on her record as County Executive. Slaughter can either ignore that, and therefore tacitly agree that Brooks’ tenure as County Exec recommends her for Slaughter’s job, or Louise can disagree with it. Obviously, Louise disagrees, and this ad is the form her disagreement took. That’s why they call it a “campaign”, instead of a “cotillion” or a “Sunday drive in the park”. I expect we’ll see something similar from Brooks in the future. If it is as accurate as this ad, I think the voters in Monroe County will survive.