Assemblyman Morelle has comfortable lead in Rochester-area congressional race

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle.

The race to succeed former Representative Louise Slaughter has tightened a little since August, however, Democrat Joe Morelle, the Assembly Majority Leader, maintains a comfortable 53-36 percent lead over his Republican opponent, Dr. Jim Maxwell, according to a new Spectrum News/Siena College poll of likely 25th Congressional District voters.

Morelle has a 55-to-23 percent favorability rating, up from 53-to-18 percent in August, compared to Maxwell’s 36-to-14 percent favorability rating, up from 17-to-12 percent in August.

First-time candidate Maxwell is still largely unknown to half the electorate.

“Morelle, better known and viewed more favorably than Maxwell, continues to maintain a solid lead with little change in the overall dynamics of the race,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “Morelle still holds 81 percent of Democrats, keeping Maxwell in single digits with Democrats. Maxwell still has less than two-thirds of Republicans backing him, while Morelle has the support of one-quarter of Republicans. And Morelle still leads with independents, now by eight points, down from 12 points in August.

“Slaughter had some runaway races as well as a few very close races in this district that has almost 60,000 more enrolled Democrats than Republicans. Morelle increased his huge lead in Rochester. He saw his 27-point lead in the eastern portion of the district tighten to 12 points, and the western part of the district remains tight with Morelle having a narrow three-point lead,” Greenberg said. “Maxwell only trails by five points with men, however, women give Morelle a commanding 27-point lead.

Maxwell, a neurosurgeon who lives in east Rochester, is unknown to 49 percent the voters in the district. Morelle, a long-time assemblyman, is unknown to 22 percent of the voters in the district.

Dr. James Maxwell

“In this district that tilts decidedly blue, likely voters want to see the Democrats control Congress 52-to-41 percent, down a little from 55-to-37 percent in August,” Greenberg said. “This district also disapproves of the job President Trump is doing, 55-to-40 percent, although that’s better than August, when voters disapproved of Trump’s job by a 57-to-34 percent margin.

“Dr. Maxwell has become a little better known over the last two months, although he still lags behind Morelle in favorability. However, Maxwell has not yet succeeded in solidifying his Republican base, only leading by 38 points, compared to Morelle’s 72-point lead with Democrats,” Greenberg said. “While there is still time, the clock is ticking faster and Morelle’s advantage may be too big for Maxwell to close in the time remaining.”

This Spectrum News/Siena College survey was conducted October 4-8 by telephone calls in English to 465 likely 25th Congressional District voters. This poll has a margin of error of 4.7 percentage points.