The re-election campaign of Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy seems to be doing a bit of post-Nov. 6 damage control.
In recent weeks, people connected to the campaign have forwarded and leaked various political polls to media outlets, perhaps in an effort to prove that Healy’s aspiration for another term is viable. Campaign insiders have often discussed these polls with local reporters, columnists, and prospective ward candidates for the Healy slate, talking up the mayor’s political strength while insisting on anonymity.
But in the Nov. 6 special election for the Ward F City Council seat, Healy’s chosen candidate, incumbent Michele Massey, lost by over 1,500 votes to Diane Coleman, who was endorsed by the current Ward F Councilman Steven Fulop, Healy’s major challenger for the mayoralty. So Healy’s campaign is now prepared to show, not just tell.
The timing of these poll leaks is telling. They come not only after Massey’s defeat, but also at a time when the mayor is about to launch a major fundraising drive to get money for his campaign.
These poll leaks might be happening now so that Healy’s funders are convinced he still has a shot at re-election next year.
However, people close to Fulop argue these leaks are a sign of “desperation” that suggest the mayor and his campaign feel they are on the ropes.
What was leaked
One poll, conducted in June by Rex Marketing, was leaked to The Reporter recently. The full results of this poll were shared, including the specific questions asked and a demographic breakdown of the residents who were contacted.
The results of a second poll, commissioned by the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) and conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Hamilton Campaigns, were also supplied to The Reporter by a second source. While the overall results of this poll were shared, the questions asked and demographic information regarding who was contacted were not.
The Rex Marketing poll surveyed 300 Jersey City residents, 245 of whom said they were “very likely” to vote in the 2013 mayoral election.
In this poll, crime was often given as the city’s most pressing issue. In one question, residents were asked directly what they thought the single most important issue is in the city and crime was listed as the top concern, followed by the economy and taxes.
The poll, which, again, was conducted in June, rated Healy against several other possible mayoral contenders, including Fulop, Councilwoman Viola Richardson, State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, State Assemblyman Sean Connors, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, and Jerry Walker – all of whom have at times mentioned an interest in running for mayor.
In a three-way race between Healy, Fulop, and Cunningham, the mayor would beat them both, according to the poll, with Fulop coming in third behind Cunningham. In a two-way race between Healy and Fulop, most poll respondents (116 people) said they would vote for the mayor, with 94 respondents saying they would vote for Councilman Fulop. Ninety people polled said they were undecided.
The less-detailed poll conducted from Oct. 5 through 8 by Hamilton Campaigns concluded, according to a memo supplied to the HCDO, that Healy “is viewed positively in every ward of the city” with 61 percent of people polled saying they have a “favorable view of the mayor.” Thirty-one percent of people polled said they had an “unfavorable” view of Healy.
The HCDO poll tries to paint Fulop as an unknown entity who likely voters “cannot rate.” Of the 600 people surveyed, 47 percent had a “favorable” view of Fulop. But 36 percent of those polled said they didn’t know enough about Fulop to rate him.
Hamilton Campaigns surveyed 600 people and has a margin of error of four percent.
Hamilton also concluded that, “Healy is viewed most favorably in Wards A and C, and among African Americans, Asians, and white men. Among African Americans, his favorability is 67 percent favorable [and] 27 percent unfavorable – among the highest of any group in the city.”
If you can’t make it here…
Fulop campaign insiders, however, question these results and points to the recent Ward F special election as proof of their skepticism.
Coleman is likely to run on Fulop’s slate next year. She beat Councilwoman Massey in nearly every district in Ward F, the ward with the highest number of African American residents.
“If Healy can’t beat Fulop there, he can’t beat him anyplace in the city,” said one Fulop supporter.
“This really is a sign of desperation on their part,” said Fulop campaign spokesman Bruno Tedeshi. “We know some of the questions asked in the [Hamilton Campaigns] poll because we know some of the people who received the call, and the questions were framed in such a way that they were designed to elicit negative responses about Fulop. I think you really have to question why these internal polls are being released at all and why they are being released at this time.”
Tedeshi said that polls conducted by the Fulop campaign found that more than a quarter of people surveyed believed that drugs, crime, or gangs were the city’s biggest problems and that two thirds of those surveyed gave Healy a negative job approval rating.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.