ALBANY—Two polls released today attempt to parse Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s political standing, and offer somewhat different findings with the same basic message: she’s not that strong.
The first question pollsters examined was whether the senator could survive a primary—most all of the Democrats who had pondered running against her, including Jon Cooper, have since dropped from the race—against a downstate challenger, of whom the latest favorite is Bill Thompson.
A poll by the Siena Research Institute shows 32 percent of Democrats backing Gillibrand, compared to 23 percent for Thompson. Siena also threw two other names in the mix: Jonathan Tasini, a labor activist who ran against Hillary Clinton and Harold Ford Jr., who drew (respectively) three and seven percent. The winner in Siena’s question was “don’t know,” which drew 35 percent.
A survey by Quinnipiac Polling Institute knocked Ford and Tasini (who has been raising money for the seat) out of the field, and found that Thompson would beat Gillibrand 41-28 with a particularly acute drubbing (65-11) among black Democrats.
“If New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson can raise some money and get in the race, he has a double-digit lead over rookie U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand,” said Maurice Carroll, Quinnipiac’s spokesman. “But Giuliani, who is pondering a Senate race, tops both of them.”
If he gets in. Siena showed that Giuliani has the support of 57 percent of Republicans surveyed in a primary, beating George Pataki, Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld, Michael Balboni and Michael Blakeman for the nomination. Siena showed Gillibrand would defeat Pataki 46-42 but would lose to Giuliani 49-42. (The Pataki result is close to the poll’s 3.8 percent margin of error.) The difference, according to the Crosstabs, lies among women: Giuliani runs five points better than Pataki, and Gillibrand’s support among women in a hypothetical match-up against either man is five percent lower against Giuliani. (Quinnipiac reported Giuliani would beat Gillibrand 50-40.)
Gillibrand’s favorability rating is stagnant, with most voters—58 percent, according to Quinnipiac—not having heard enough about her to form an opinion. Seventy percent of blacks gave that response and, surprisingly, 61 percent of women. (Siena’s statistic here is 49 percent.)
According to Quinnipiac, Gillibrand’s unfavorability rating has climbed as more voters learn about her.