Democrat Tom Suozzi’s bipartisan appeal has given him a 16-percentage-point lead over Republican Jack Martins in the 3rd Congressional District, according to a Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll released Saturday.
Fifty percent of respondents favor Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, 34 percent favor Martins, a state senator, and 15 percent remain undecided in the race to replace retiring Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), the poll says.
The poll surveyed 613 likely voters from Sept. 28 to 29 and Oct. 2 to 5 with a 4 percent margin of error.
It was published a day after the National Republican Congressional Committee canceled its remaining TV ad reservations in a race it has called one of the GOP’s top opportunities to take a Democratic seat in the Northeast. The committee’s independent advertising arm had reserved $1.19 million in ads but spent only $360,000.
Suozzi, of Glen Cove, is drawing more support from voters outside his own party as Martins, of Old Westbury, continues to struggle with name recognition in the district stretching from northeast Queens to northwest Suffolk County, the poll shows.
Some 25 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of independents favor Suozzi, while 9 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents favor Martins.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they did not know Martins or had no opinion of him, compared with 27 percent for Suozzi.
Both candidates are best known in their bases of Nassau County, but 51 percent of voters there said they did not know Martins or had no opinion of him, despite the fact that much of Martins’ state Senate district overlaps with the congressional district.
“There’s still four-plus weeks to go but Martins has a lot of ground to make up,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a news release. “He’s got to start by first becoming known to voters and giving them a reason to support him over someone who is more well-known and liked.”
Suozzi is pulling more support than Hillary Clinton, his party’s presidential nominee, who leads Republican nominee Donald Trump 47 percent to 38 percent in the 3rd District. Trump’s support in the presidential race is four percentage points higher than Martins’ support in the congressional race.
Suozzi, who served as county executive from 2001 to 2009, was also better known than the four other Democrats he beat in June for the party’s nomination. A Democratic poll released in August also showed him with a 16-percentage-point lead over Martins.
Martins has won three state Senate races as the GOP candidate in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans. He got his party’s nomination in March, but spent much of the summer locked in a court battle to avoid a primary with Philip Pidot, a hardline conservative who may have pulled the moderate Martins further to the right.
In a statement, Suozzi’s campaign manager, Mike Florio, said Suozzi “will continue to campaign hard, focus on the issues, and remind voters that he will take on the powerful interests, even his own party if necessary, to represent the people he serves.”
E. O’Brien Murray, Martins’ senior campaign strategist, called Suozzi a “self-serving politician” and said “a month is more than a lifetime” in this year’s election.
Martins also got endorsements this week from John Bolton, a former United Nations ambassador, and the three unions representing current and retired Nassau County police officers, detectives and supervisors.
“We are confident that as voters continue to learn about Jack Martins’ record of working in a bipartisan manner to deliver tax relief, combat the heroin epidemic and protect our environment, they will support him,” Murray said in a statement.
Both campaigns are spending six-figure amounts on TV advertising, but the poll indicates Suozzi’s has reached more voters. Some 47 percent said they have seen Suozzi ads, heard from his campaign or both, compared with 29 percent for Martins.
Poll results factored into the National Republican Congressional Committee’s decision to cancel more than $500,000 worth of ads it had booked on Martins’ behalf.
The committee’s independent spending arm launched an ad attacking Suozzi on Sept. 30 and planned to run negative ads through the Nov. 8 election. The NRCC spent another $70,000 on a separate ad coordinated with Martins’ campaign.
The national party’s pullout is significant considering it considered Martins’ race one of its best chances to supplant a Democrat in the House of Representatives. But an NRCC spokesman, Chris Pack, said it doesn’t mean the race is unwinnable, as “Suozzi’s support is a mile wide and an inch deep.”
“We are still confident that Jack Martins will defeat Tom Suozzi in November,” Pack said in an email. “Voters are sick of career politicians like Tom Suozzi, who voted to raise taxes on Long Island families by hundreds of millions of dollars while accepting a $65,000 taxpayer-funded pay raise.”
Murray said the committee’s cancellation is a “major decision” but Martins’ campaign looks “forward to continued conversations and continued support” from the committee.
Kim Devlin, a Suozzi strategist, called the NRCC’s involvement in the race “insider Washington politics.”
In a fundraising email on Sunday, Florio reminded Suozzi supporters of the threat of “outside money coming in to attack us.”
“What the national parties do, or don’t do, will not change Tom Suozzi focusing on what people really care about, important issues and getting stuff done,” Devlin said in an email.