The Brooks-Slaughter Race

Posted at: 11/02/2012 5:50 AM
By: Dr. Timothy Kneeland -- Political Blogger

As we head into the home stretch of the 2012 election, pundits, pollsters, and analysts are trying to anticipate what the outcome will be on Tuesday, November 6.   Today, a look at the Brooks v Slaughter campaign for the 25th Congressional District.  
The most recent poll from Siena (November 1, 2012) shows a 10 point lead for incumbent Louise Slaughter, who has an overall 52% to 42% lead with about 6% undecided among likely voters.    This is almost a replication of the first poll that was conducted back in September, with the exception that Maggie has increased her unfavorability rating while decreasing her favorability rating.   The undecided voters have also shrunk to around 6%.   

One question to ask is why?  What did Brooks do or not do that led to these changes?  I suspect that the negative ads against Louise by the Brooks campaign and those of the independent Superpacs are partially to blame.  Negative ads are generally a turnoff for independent voters, who do not like the partisan bickering and bleak tone of the ads.   Furthermore, negative ads are most effective against a relatively unknown candidate.  Slaughter has served 26 years in the House and can hardly qualify as unknown.   On the other hand, the culture of corruption ads by Slaughter against Brooks may well have led to some erosion of support and even defection from some Republicans.     Slaughter also was relentless in attempting to tie Brooks to Paul Ryan and some of the conservative ideals which he represents.   Ryan’s plan to shrink the government included cutting the budgets of some long cherished social programs such as Medicare. These ideals, which are embraced in other parts of the nation, are less welcome in Monroe County and may explain why polls that show older voters (55 +) and women are more inclined to vote for Slaughter.

The latest poll does not spell defeat for the challenger.  There are a number of variables that will affect Tuesday’s outcome.  One factor is turnout.   There is a decided enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democrat voters across the nation that will help Brooks close the gap – which I suspect is closer to a five point spread than ten.  A second factor is Independent voters.  The recent poll shows independent voters are evenly divided between the two candidates, but those independent voters who remain undecided today will be more inclined to break for the challenger on Tuesday.  A third factor is how Brook’s actions during and after the Sandy storm will play out in the minds of would be voters.  This is not quantifiable but may have a positive or negative impact on this election.

In the end, those of us who vote will determine the outcome of this race, and I anticipate the margin between the two candidates will be closer than the latest poll shows.