The Poll-ercoaster

September 23, 2010 1:57:36 PM PDT
If you're riveted to public opinion polls, you've a good chance of coming down with a wicked case of mental whiplash.

Yesterday, a poll by Quinnipiac University showed Democrat Andrew Cuomo's lead shrinking from about 16% to just 6% in his New York Governor's race against upstart Republican candidate Carl Paladino, who also happens to be the darling of the Tea Party.

Today, a Sienna College poll shows Cuomo's lead at 33%. In the period between the two polls - and maybe you saw these - several TV ads by Cuomo blasting Paladino. The man who was basically ignoring his opponent - and some experts said for good reason - suddenly was going negative on him, and giving him name exposure you just can't buy.

So what's the truth, in terms of the numbers? It's probably closer to the 16% that the earlier polls had.

It's a quirky little business, polling. The Qunnipiac poll asked "likely" voters, and didn't include the among the candidate choices the man Paladino beat for the Republican nomination - Rick Lazio. But Lazio is running, on the Conservative Party ticket. "Likely" voters at this stage of the game might work in Paladino's favor Paladino because they appear more fired up and angry and passionate.

The Sienna poll, on the other hand, included Lazio - which would siphon Paladino support - and polled "registered voters," who are perhaps less likely to vote than "likely" peeps.

So - the takeaway is that, first, all polls are not created equal and sometimes compare apples to oranges, and, second, reacting to polls can get a politician to overreact, and do things he or she might not otherwise do.

That said, we'll have the latest on the race for New York Governor, tonight at 11.

A couple of other political items while we're on this electoral bent. Pew today released an analysis of independent voters and found that the independents who backed Barack Obama two years ago - and were largely responsible for his election - now favor Republican candidates.

But the study also discovered that these "independents" are not likely to stay with the GOP for very long, if the party doesn't live up to its promises. Party loyalty these days is at best a fleeting sentiment.

The other item worth nothing is that Sarah Palin has, for the first time, raised the specter that she might run for President. Now that's a shocker. She told Fox News, where she's also a contributor, that "if nobody else wanted to step up? I would offer myself up in the name of service to the public."

Also at 11, a murder mystery in the Bronx that's filled with international intrigue. A diplomat serving as the counsel general with the Nicaraguan mission to the U.N. was found dead in his apartment in the Bronx. The man had his throat slashed when his driver came to pick him up this morning. Jim Dolan is following developments for us.

And our Carolina Leid has an emotional story about 3 year old Elle Vandenburghe - nearly killed last year by a driver who was backing up and ran her over. Her skull was crushed and she underwent several major operations. This month she's entering pre-school, and because of the efforts of her mother, there's now a new law in New York State, beefing up the penalty for anyone who runs down a pedestrian while driving recklessly. The driver who hit Elle was given a ticket.

And we'll have the latest on the happenings at the United Nations today, which included speeches by both Pres. Obama and Iranian Pres. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. The latter making his case for nuclear power - although not for nuclear weapons - and then taking a strange turn by claiming that the Sept. 11 attacks were not the work of Al Qaeda but instead was done by the U.S. itself, in an attempt to "reverse a declining economy."

Clearly Mr. Ahmedinejad should take an Econ. 101 class. The U.S. economy went into a tailspin after the terror attacks and entered a recession. Although for many, this kind of anti-U.S. rhetoric and conspiracy theory pablum has become conventional wisdom. To many radical Muslims, Ahmedinejad was preaching to the choir.

By the way, the U.S. delegation walked out during the Iranian leader's speech.

And finally, you may have heard about the Facebook outage that's frustrating millions of the site's users today. The quote of the day in response comes from Twitter pages: "Facebook is down which means 9 months from today, many children will born."

I'm just sayin'.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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