Tuesday, September 26, 2017

HCV Poll, 42 days out and the politics of division

With 42 days out Hoboken's barn burner of a mayoral race plus 14 council at large candidates, pressure mounts and candidacies are being exposed in ways planned, unplanned and and for those in the observer cockpit, telling.

Hudson County View published a poll and has four of its mayoral interviews published asking who gave the best interview? The results are interesting if not scientific. Perhaps in the zombie apocalypse cave they'll defend the data and say it's valued but more likely there will be zombie retrenchment.

Before the results are assaulted by a slew of campaign political operatives, here's the initial results:

Hudson County View's poll shows all four of its interviewed mayoral
candidate pulling significant support. One candidate appears to have
pulled away by a significant margin.

Asking who did best in the interview is also an indicator on underlying popular support and candidate interest. Starting from the top, Freeholder Anthony Romano has an evident base of support. His interview came first in the summer and he probably hadn't even gotten his sea legs with the sudden switch entering the mayoral race. He was exceedingly polite and low key showing confidence knowing he has support that is rock solid. At almost 20%, the number shows if anything that support will be there no matter what. Can the freeholder beef it up for both his county seat and mayor appearance on the November ballot? That's what his recent mailers seek to do.

Councilman Ravi Bhalla is next and his figure comes in at less than 10%. His early jump start from a date uncertain (no one can get a clear answer on when the Mayor Zimmer's withdrawal and replacement deal was hatched) showed initial headway. That early kick may have stalled with a base of support that has shrunk below Romano and what one statewide NJ political writer called Hoboken's crunchy granola eaters after the much criticized back room baton toss from lame duck Mayor Zimmer. Last week's cynical divisive mailer to Hoboken Democrats is seeing derision from all political strata. Some Hoboken Democrats find the mailer crass and worse, creepy with its use of a white child as a prop. Of course registered Independents, Republicans and Libertarians need not apply as second class citizens. Did that message reach the Hudson Tea Building yesterday where the Bhalla campaign held a meet and greet? If not, it will.

Council President Jen Giattino fares the best in the results to date with well over 30%. Is this a reflection of a surging candidacy that is finding its stride? There's far too much time left to conclude but there's a sense her grass roots message focusing on commercial development, quality of life and sustainability combined with her campaigning is winning hearts and minds. Her interview shows a mayoral candidate relaxed, poised, and knowledgeable with a down to earth sense of humor not seen at all with her rivals. Giattino campaign signs are springing up all over town but to the amazement of many, one location is Church Towers, a locked down Russo stronghold. Is the crossover effect taking hold? Team Giattino will need to hone its message and hammer it home. Hoboken mayoral race victories are for closers.

Last, Councilman Mike DeFusco's numbers come in around 20%. Are they similarly reflected in his poll conducted last weekend? Some close political observers think they are but the DeFusco penchant to say anything is starting to come back to bite. His interview showed a preplanned strategy to switch from blaming the $8.35 million Suez liability on the Zimmer administration to his mayoral rivals on the council. How many noticed the switch or concluded the attack is clearly illogical and completely political on DeFusco's part? The used car salesman routine is growing old. Low information voters may be impressed by the schtick but Hoboken has a core base of voters in municipal elections who've seen this act before. They won't be buying.

The last group measured is "not impressed" which some may interpret as a lack of interest or undecided. If you cut the double digit number in half, figure the lack of interest group will not change nor move down the ballot and vote on Election Day. The real question; if the other half is undecided, will they play a role in the outcome on November 7th.

That like the actual poll of voters on Election Day is the only one that matters.

Hoboken mayoral candidates from left: Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano, Councilman Ravi Bhalla, City Council President Jen Giattino and Councilman Mike DeFusco. Not pictured: Karen Nason and Ron Bautista. 
photo courtesy the Hudson County View