It's taken until just Election-minus-40-days to get any polling from the redrawn NY-25, where veteran progressive fighter Louise Slaughter is getting what's supposed to be one of the stiffest challenges of her long Congressional career...and the news today is very, very good. Siena College's respected pollster Steve Greenberg has Louise up 10 points against Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, staked to a 52-42 advantage in a district that's been massively redrawn going into the 2012 cycle.
Some off-the-cuff analysis, below the Endangered Squiggle... (what, you didn't know kos was planning to eliminate it in the next site redesign?)
To hear the local pundits tell it, "Maggie" (this is very much a first-name-basis race) is an indomitable force in Monroe County politics. She's won her last few races for County Executive by big margins (57-43 last time around), and she still enjoys whatever peculiar kind of celebrity comes from having once been a popular local TV anchor.
But there's trouble in Maggie-land. Her Teflon tenure as County Executive has been at least lightly scuffed in recent years by a series of small-to-medium scandals in county government...but, here, let Louise tell you about them:
The big question, at least until this polling finally showed up, was how Maggie would do against a very different electorate from the one she's faced the last few times around. She's won as County Executive in off-off-year elections with very low turnout, and the turnout has been mostly from the Republican-heavy suburbs, not the Democratic-dominated city of Rochester.
This year, of course, will be different. The new 25th is entirely within Monroe County (a big change from Louise's previous 28th, which started in the city of Rochester and then snaked along the Lake Ontario shore 70 miles west to Niagara Falls and part of Buffalo). But it still doesn't include the wealthy (if relatively small) suburbs on the southern edge of the county. Mendon and Rush and Wheatland would be Maggie Country if they were in the district, but they're not - and taking Mendon out of the mix removes some of the wealthiest donors who'd otherwise perhaps be throwing more money into the race for the red team.
Siena's poll finds not only that Louise is killing Maggie, 75-19, within city limits, but also that she has a 49-45 lead in eastern Monroe County. Maggie leads 53-43 in the western suburbs, which tend to be the reddest part of the county. If city voters turned out huge numbers, this wouldn't even be a race, but they don't, and so it still (sort of) is.
More good news? That 53-43 horse-race number includes only 6% "don't know." The voters here know Maggie and Louise very, very well already. Louise represented a lot of the current 25th prior to the 2002 gerrymandering, and she's stayed visible locally even as her most recent district was stretched out to Buffalo. Maggie says she's going to go more negative on Louise's record in her next ads, but it's harder to define a well-known incumbent than a newcomer.
Still more good news? 21% of Republicans say they'll vote for Louise. Louise has a 59-36 favorability rating, while Maggie's also liked (but not as much), with a 51-42. Who's better on jobs? The poll says Louise, 47-42. And how will the district vote at the top of the ballot? Obama, 53-39.
There are at least two debates coming in October. With her TV background, Maggie's good at that, and she's bound to try to go negative...but how negative can you go against an octogenarian with a 59% approval rating without tarnishing your own reputation?
There's only one little downside to all this good news: Louise turned 83 this past summer, and she's still recovering from a nasty fall in which she broke her leg earlier this year. Maggie's only 57, and she's sure to run again in 2014...when turnout in the city will be much lower without Obama's coattails, and when Louise is 85, and while I'd like to say there's a strong Democratic bench in the county to replace Louise eventually, I'd be lying. It would be nice if a big Maggie loss in November dents her Teflon enough to get other Republicans to challenge her in 2014 for the nomination, but barring more county scandals (not an impossibility!) it's probably hers again if she wants it in two years.
So I'm not going to conclude by telling you to send Louise some money: she's obviously in very good shape, and while I'm sure a few more dollars wouldn't hurt her, they might do more good just to the east, where Dan Maffei is in a fight against the odious tea partier Ann Marie Buerkle, or to the southeast, where Nate Shinagawa is a longshot Democratic hopeful against the lightweight Republican incumbent Tom Reed.
And for heavens' sake, Monroe County Democrats...get cracking on building a bench for 2014 and beyond!