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Nassau DA race poll says it's essentially a 'toss-up'

Republican Kate Murray (left) and Democrat Madeline Singas

Republican Kate Murray (left) and Democrat Madeline Singas (right) are battling it out in this year's Nassau County District Attorney's race. Credit: Uli Seit / Steve Pfost

The Nassau district attorney's race is virtually tied, with Democrat Madeline Singas boosting her support among Republicans and Democrats to close a six-point gap that last month favored Republican Kate Murray, according to a Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll.

Murray, the Hempstead Town supervisor, still leads Singas, the acting Nassau district attorney, 46 percent to 45 percent. Nine percent of those asked said they are undecided leading up to Tuesday's election.

The poll of 596 likely Nassau voters surveyed between Oct. 23-28 has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Donald P. Levy, director of the Siena Research Institute, called the matchup "too close to call," saying the outcome of the election will depend on which campaign can rouse its supporters to the polls.

"You can't get any tighter than a one-point lead," Levy said. "It's statistically insignificant from a polling perspective. What strikes me is that not only did Singas close a six-point gap to a one-point gap, but she's improved with both Democrats and Republicans."

Last month, Murray led Singas 48 percent to 42 percent in a Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll conducted Sept. 23-29. The baseline poll showed Murray, a former assemblywoman, enjoyed wider name recognition entering the race than Singas, a 24-year prosecutor who spent her career largely out of the public eye until becoming acting district attorney in January, after predecessor Kathleen Rice was elected to Congress.

As the campaign has intensified over the past month, with both candidates trading attacks in TV ads and political mailers, Singas has gained ground among both major parties -- 27 percent of Republicans polled said they would vote for Singas, an 11-point increase from September. Among Democrats, 74 percent said they planned to vote for her, up from 69 percent last month.

Murray's GOP support remains "solid," Levy said, but has slipped slightly -- 69 percent of Republicans said they planned to vote for Murray, down from 74 percent last month. Murray's Democratic support dropped four points compared with last month, with 20 percent of poll respondents now saying they'd vote for her.

Support among independents and third-party voters has remained level for both candidates, with 44 percent siding with Singas in the two polls, and 41 percent supporting Murray, a 1 percent decrease from last month.

Murray campaign spokesman Bill Corbett Jr. said the campaign was "happy" with the poll results because Murray remained ahead. "We are confident that the voters will respond to Kate's message and vote for the tough district attorney that Nassau needs -- Kate Murray," Corbett said.

Singas spokesman Isaac Goldberg said the results showed Singas' message of being a seasoned prosecutor is resonating with voters. "Madeline Singas has all the momentum right now because Nassau County voters want a career prosecutor to fight public corruption and they simply don't trust a career politician who has never been inside a criminal courtroom," Goldberg said.

Forty-eight percent of respondents said fighting public corruption is the top issue for the incoming district attorney to address. Curbing heroin-related deaths ranks second, with 25 percent naming it their top issue.

Fifty-six percent said Nassau was headed in the wrong direction, including 52 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of independent/third party voters.

With a "toss-up" of a race, Levy, the Siena pollster, said the winner will be dictated by "turnout, turnout, turnout" in an election that is likely to draw low participation because there are no state or federal races at play. Levy noted that while Nassau Democrats have an enrollment edge of some 47,000 voters, Nassau Republicans have historically voted in larger numbers.

Emilio Martinez, 77, a Garden City resident and self-declared independent, said he planned to vote for Singas, because he did not think Murray was qualified. "I believe Singas is doing a good job," said Martinez, who works part time as a certified public accountant. "The other choice, Kate Murray, I don't know that she's ever in her life tried a criminal case."

Gregory Antzoriak, 33, of Lynbrook, a registered Republican, said he plans to vote for Murray, because he is familiar with her work as town supervisor and does not know much about Singas. "She [Murray] has a decent amount of time doing what she's been doing," said Antzoriak, who works for the Garden City Water Department. "I'm not sure I can trust a candidate who I really don't know."

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