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Newsday/News 12/Siena Poll: Mangano keeps lead; Suozzi narrows gap

Republican and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, left,

Republican and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, left, and former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi. Credit: J. Conrad Williams Jr./Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano holds an 11-point lead over Democrat Thomas Suozzi, largely because Mangano has maintained a commanding advantage among independent and minor-party voters, according to a new Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll.

In a rematch of the 2009 election, Mangano, a Republican, leads Suozzi, a Democrat, 52 percent to 41 percent among likely voters just days before Tuesday's election. Seven percent said they didn't know or had no opinion. Suozzi has narrowed a 17-point gap from an Oct. 6-10 Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll.

The current poll found that 95 percent of those surveyed said they are unlikely to change their mind by Election Day. That shows that Suozzi faces a tough challenge, Siena pollster Steve Greenberg said.

"No question," Greenberg said. "The thing Suozzi has to hope for is to pick up the lion's share of the remaining undecided vote. And, mainly, what Democrats have to do is produce an Election Day turnout that is favorable to them."

The new telephone poll of 999 likely Nassau County voters was taken Oct. 27-31. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

In other Nassau contests, Democrat Howard Weitzman is holding a slim lead over Republican Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, 46 percent to 43 percent, the poll said. Greenberg considered the race a dead heat because the spread is within the poll's margin of error.

The poll also found that District Attorney Kathleen Rice, a Democrat, leads Republican Howard Sturim, 71 percent to 22 percent.

And while respondents blamed Republicans more than President Barack Obama for the recent partial federal government shutdown, nearly half said that it wouldn't affect their vote in the county executive race.

"Residents clearly aren't fooled by Tom Suozzi's desperate lies and distortions," Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said. "The difference in this race is that Ed Mangano froze county property taxes every year and created thousands of jobs while Tom Suozzi increased property taxes 23 percent and lost thousands of jobs."

But Suozzi campaign spokesman Jeff Guillot said: "In this poll, as all other recent polls illustrate, Tom Suozzi is enjoying a surge as voters join The New York Times, Newsday, President Bill Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in supporting Tom, and rejecting Ed Mangano's tax hikes, record debt, and ties to the tea party. Internal polls show that the majority of voters do not support Mangano and that this race is a statistical dead heat. As we have predicted, it will come down to turnout."

The poll found that Mangano led 59-31 among voters either enrolled in a minor party or no party. They account for about 29 percent of registered voters in Nassau and 24 percent of the poll sample.

"Nassau is a 50-50 county," said Greenberg, meaning Republicans and Democrats are almost even in enrollment, though Democrats have an edge of more than 30,000. "Mangano is doing a slightly better job holding on to Republicans than Suozzi is holding on to Democrats. And Mangano has a 2-1 advantage lead among independents and others. Thus, Mangano has an overall double-digit lead."

Mangano leads among Republicans, 81-16. Suozzi leads among Democrats, 74-21.

Besides independent and minor-party voters, two other factors loom large in the poll results: Mangano has a 40-point lead among the largest subgroup of voters, Catholics. Catholic voters were 50 percent of the survey sample, the largest subgroup. Among them, Mangano leads 67-27.

And Suozzi's "unfavorable" ratings have climbed since August.

In the latest poll, 52 percent said they had an unfavorable view of Suozzi -- who was Nassau County executive from 2002 to 2009 before being ousted by Mangano -- compared with 43 percent favorable. Three weeks ago 46 percent viewed Suozzi unfavorably compared with 45 percent favorable.

"Suozzi went from break-even on favorability to a majority having an unfavorable view of him," Greenberg noted.

Mangano's favorability numbers have dipped slightly, from 58 percent three weeks ago. Still, 56 percent of respondents view the incumbent favorably and 39 percent unfavorably. Almost one-third of Democrats gave Mangano a thumbs-up.

Mangano is receiving those numbers even though 49 percent of respondents believe Nassau is moving in the wrong direction.

David Sparrow, 45, of Valley Stream, a Hewlett lawyer who calls himself "a pretty loyal Democrat," said he will probably vote for Mangano.

"He stuck to his word and didn't raise taxes, and he fought NIFA [the state's Nassau Interim Finance Authority] to do that," Sparrow said.

In contrast, Harry Freedman, 60, of East Norwich, a Democrat, said he is voting for Suozzi.

"Suozzi came in after Gulotta messed up the bonds and the county and, for the most part, straightened Nassau out," Freedman said. "He got a little overconfident and lost to Mangano, who keeps saying he hasn't raised taxes. But . . . [Mangano] has raised fees and caused higher school taxes."

The federal government shutdown doesn't seem to have hurt Mangano, even though Nassau residents generally blamed congressional Republicans for the gridlock. Fifty percent held Republicans responsible, while 37 percent blamed Obama.

But 47 percent said the shutdown wouldn't impact their vote. Thirty-one percent said it would make them more likely to vote Democrat; 20 percent said Republican.

Regardless of whom they support or their party affiliation, 65 percent said Mangano will prevail; 27 percent said Suozzi.

With Sid Cassese

and Robert Brodsky

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