Rita Ciolli Rita Ciolli

Rita Ciolli is editor of the Editorial and Opinion pages of Newsday and amNewYork.

A presidential year is always big for Democrats in New York State because more party members head to the polls, so State Senate Democrats are licking their chops at a big opportunity to win back the chamber. Even more so if Hillary Clinton faces off against  Donald Trump at the top of the ticket this fall.
 
That’s why a Texas national polling company called around during the weekend snowstorm to those in Carl Marcellino's 5th Senate District, which straddles Nassau and Suffolk on the North Shore.

It looks like the Dems are testing out the favorability of the GOP incumbent against James Gaughran, a Democrat who lost a bid for Suffolk comptroller in 2014.

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There were numerous questions about Gaughran, with just one question each about other Dems; Suffolk Legis. Steve Stern, who is eyeing Steve Israel's congressional seat; and Oyster Bay's Dean Hart, a Democrat who lost a county legislative race last year.
 
The survey, paid for by the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, asked right at the top whether the responder voted "down ticket" in a presidential year.

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It then wanted to gauge views on Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic standard bearer and Republican contenders Trump and Ted Cruz, the conservative Texas senator. But the key questions seemed to be about the importance Republican control of the State Senate and loyalty to Marcellino.
 
And if Trump or Cruz becomes the GOP nominee, there might be a lot more of these polls on Long Island, where Republicans now hold all of its nine State Senate seats.

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