Teachout, Faso hold large leads in upcoming congressional primaries


Zephyr Teachout

Environment, health care top issues for Dems; National defense, jobs, deficit top issues for Republicans


The Democratic and Republican frontrunners are starting to pull away in the race for the 19th Congressional District seat, but don’t expect the campaign ads to end anytime soon.

With three weeks until Republicans and Democrats go to the polls to select their candidates for the Hudson Valley seat being vacated by the popular Republican Congressman Chris Gibson, John Faso has a 22-point lead over Andrew Heaney, 50-28 percent, in the Republican primary and Zephyr Teachout has a 30-point lead over Will Yandik, 53-23 percent, in the Democratic primary, according to a new Time Warner Cable News/Siena College polls of likely 19th C.D. primary voters released Wednesday.

Among likely Republican voters in the district, Faso has a 47-30 percent favorability rating, compared to Heaney’s negative 29-45 percent favorability rating; both are unknown to about one-quarter of Republicans.

Among likely Democratic voters in the district, Teachout has a 64-10 percent favorability rating, compared to 38-9 percent for Yandik.

The most important issue for Republican primary voters polled last week is a toss-up among jobs, national defense and the federal budget deficit, followed closely by protecting the Second Amendment, according to Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. Democratic primary voters say it’s environment and health care, with education and corruption in government fairly far behind the top two.

Teachout unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a primary for governor in 2014, but made a strong showing upstate. While Teachout is unknown to about one-quarter of Democrats, according to the latest poll, Yandik is unknown to more than half.

“With three weeks until primary day, Zephyr Teachout has the support of more than half of likely Democratic primary voters and a commanding 30-point lead,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “In Ulster and Dutchess Counties, which is expected to account for nearly half of the votes in this Democratic primary, Teachout leads Yandik by more than 40 points, while holding double digit leads in the remainder of the district. While moderate Democrats, who comprise less than one-third of the electorate, provide Teachout with only a 13-point lead, among liberal Democrats, she leads by more than 40 points.

Faso small copy


“Teachout is more known to Democratic primary voters than Yandik and she is viewed favorably by nearly two-thirds, compared to the 38 percent who view Yandik favorably,” Greenberg said. “Interestingly, nearly half of voters say they’ve heard from Teachout’s campaign and nearly half say they’ve heard from Yandik’s campaign. And between one-quarter and one-third of the electorate claims to have seen or heard advertising for each of the candidates.
“On the Republican side, John Faso leads Andrew Heaney by 22 points, built from a 14-point lead among moderate Republicans – about one-third of the electorate – and a 25-point lead among conservatives, who comprise about two-thirds of the electorate,” Greenberg said. “While the race is very tight in Ulster and Dutchess Counties, which will produce about one-third of the voters, Faso enjoys a 19-point lead in the more southern portion of the district and a commanding 41-point lead in the five northern counties of the district.

“While Faso has a mildly positive 47-30 percent favorability rating among Republican primary voters, they view Heaney unfavorably by a 45-29 percent margin,” Greenberg said. “Heaney’s job in winning the primary is considerably harder when he’s viewed unfavorably by a 16-point margin and Faso is viewed favorably by a 17-point margin.”

After redistricting in 2012, the 19th District comprises all of Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster counties, and parts of Broome, Dutchess, Montgomery, and Rensselaer counties.

The outgoing congressman, Chris Gibson, served three terms after retiring from a career in the U.S. Army.

He was seen as a moderate Republican who earned an MPA, as well as an MA and Ph.D. in government from Cornell University. He was a professor of American Politics at the United States Military Academy at West Point and a National Security fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he wrote a book on civil-military relations.

He remains popular among both Republicans and Democrats

“Gibson is viewed favorably by 86 percent of Republican primary voters and 60 percent of Democratic primary voters,” Greenberg said. “In a sprawling, diverse district, Congressman Gibson has been able to earn and keep the trust and respect of voters across the partisan spectrum, an uncommon trait in today’s world where politics looks an awful lot like a combat sport.”

The Time Warner Cable News/Siena College primary surveys of the 19th Congressional District were conducted May 31 to June 2, 2016 by telephone calls to 436 likely Republican primary voters and 431 likely Democratic primary voters. The results have a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points for the Republican primary poll and 4.7 percentage points for the Democratic primary poll.

“Three weeks in rough and tumble political campaigns is a lifetime and so primary voters in the 19th C.D. are likely to have their mailboxes, viewed websites, TV screens and radio stations filled with campaign advertising supporting and opposing various candidates over the next 21 days,” Greenberg said. “Teachout and Faso have large leads heading into the closing weeks of the campaign, so the questions are simple.

“Will the front runners be able to hold the momentum or will they let it slip away? And which campaign on each side of the aisle will do a better job identifying their supporters and getting them to the polls? The questions are easy but the answers are still unknown.”