Pollsters like to remind their clients and the public at large that any single survey is nothing more than a snapshot. But some pictures are a little more blurry than others.
The Siena Research Institute had some statistical explaining to do following Tuesday night’s decisive Democratic primary defeat of Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards by City Council President Lovely Warren. In a poll released Sunday, Siena gave Richards a whopping 36-point lead over Warren, 63 to 27 percent. The poll of 503 likely voters — co-sponsored by YNN, the Democrat & Chronicle, WHAM TV and WXXI Public Broadcasting — had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
Instead, Warren beat Richards 58 to 41 percent, clearing the way for her to likely become Rochester’s first female mayor after November’s general election.
Siena was far more accurate in its assessments of the Democratic mayoral primaries in Albany and Buffalo, and several other local races around the state.
Don Levy, director of the Siena polling operation, said his first reaction to the vote results coming out of Rochester was, “Oh, somebody flipped the names.”
Levy said he had been far more worried about the outcome in Albany matching Siena’s findings considering the relatively strong showing that Democrat Corey Ellis had made against Mayor Jerry Jennings in 2010. The Sunday poll showed Kathy Sheehan leading Ellis 68 to 20 percent; Tuesday’s vote gave her the win 66 to 29 percent.
Levy noted the Rochester poll was done in complete parallel with the Albany and Buffalo mayoral surveys: All were conducted Sept. 3 to 5 via cell and landline calls, and collected responses from roughly 660 respondents in each city that were winnowed down to about 500 of the most likely voters.
“We used the same methodology, the same interviews, the same surveys,” Levy said, “so there’s no bias between questions …read more