The poll released November 2nd shows O’Brien leading Hanna by a 50% to 39% margin.
Yet a poll released October 3rd showed Hanne leading by a 47% to 39% margin.
On Friday, after both candidates debated the issues on WHAM1180-AM’s Bob Lonsberry Show, each expressed their own doubts about the poll’s accuracy.
"I think people are beginning to look through all the clutter and analyze all the issues and so I feel pretty good that things are moving in my direction,” O’Brien said while not completely discounting the poll’s results.
"I don't make very much of it,” Hanna said. “This race has been monitored very, very closely at both the state level and at the local level it doesn't even resemble what we're looking like.”
The newly drawn 55th Senate District includes the eastern portion of Monroe County and the western portion of Ontario County. The seat remains open following longtime Sen. Jim Alesi’s announcement earlier this year that he would not seek re-election. Political leaders in Albany and around the state are watching this race closely as the balance of power in the soon-to-be 63 seat State Senate could hinge on the outcome of just a few races including this one.
Hanna chuckled when asked if he thought anyone could take much away from a poll that shows a 19-point swing in barely a month’s time.
“I have no idea. I think people are going to look at it and say that's crazy, that's way off the mark and it's happened with a couple of other races across the state,” Hanna said. “It is just not reflective of what's going on out there and I think the public will pay it very little attention, probably less attention than even I'm paying it.”
“I think there were large parts of the district where frankly I wasn't known when Siena was first doing their polling and our campaign really hadn't gotten its legs at that point,” O’Brien said while trying to speculate as to why the poll swung so heavily in his favor. “We campaigned very tenaciously particularly a door-to-door campaign and actually talking to voters.”
13WHAM discussed the polls results with multiple political science professors in the Rochester area and each agreed that much more data would need to be gathered to explain such a drastic swing in such a short time.
13WHAM NEWS ANALYSIS FROM POLITICAL REPORTER SEAN CARROLL:
I don’t believe much can be drawn from the overall results of each Siena poll and sources on both sides tell me they have the race as being much closer than eight or eleven points. Yet, a look at the cross tabs shows me something else that begins to perhaps explain an O’Brien surge over the last month.
One consistency with each poll is that President Barack Obama held significant leads with voters in the SD-55. (14% in Oct. 3rd poll, 15% in Nov. 2nd poll)
In the Oct. 3rd poll, Ted O’Brien was unknown to 52% of those polled. In the Nov. 2nd poll, he was unknown to only 26% of those polled.
The race has been defined by nasty attack ads, many from outside groups and many targeting O’Brien as his campaign and the groups that support him have not been as well-funded.
I suspect those attacks gave O’Brien the name recognition he did not initially have and perhaps that resonated with voters who already leaned towards voting for the President.