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Behind the scenes of a new Suffolk poll

Bellone comes across as Suffolk’s Democratic leader, not just an elected official.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is pictured on

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is pictured on Feb. 1, 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

This originally appeared in The Point, the editorial board's newsletter for insiders. To subscribe, click here.

Steve Bellone is sending out some results of a poll he commissioned which — surprise, surprise — reveal the Suffolk County executive is very popular.

Global Strategy Group, which conducted the poll of likely voters in late June, finds that the two-term Democratic official gets very high marks from across the political spectrum — a positive rating of 61 percent among Republicans, 62 percent among independents and 69 percent among Democrats.

A summary of the results was given to The Point by Jason Elan, the head of Bellone’s communications team. Elan, who did not provide the actual questions asked or the raw polling data that support the conclusions, said Bellone used campaign funds to pay for the survey. The firm also does polling for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The poll finds that Cuomo leads GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro by 19 points, 55 percent to 36 percent; and that the incumbent Democrat does well with independents (57 percent) and Republicans (34 percent). The poll also finds that gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who is not fond of the state property tax cap, is not doing very well in the ’burbs. Her favorability rating among the 402 general-election likely voters surveyed was 24 percent, while 40 percent rated her unfavorable.

The rosy poll for Democrats also finds that President Donald Trump is slightly underwater in Suffolk, a county he won by single digits in 2016. Trump had a 47 percent favorable rating to 49 percent unfavorable.

Cuomo is running for re-election; so are members of Congress and the New York State Legislature. But Bellone is not up for re-election until next year. Known to be a tightwad about spending campaign funds, why is Bellone splurging for an off-cycle poll?

Obviously, it gives him the ability to tout his political strength and activism in a swing county, which gives him clout with Democrats statewide. Writ large, if Suffolk delivers some State Senate seats for Democrats — he is behind the candidacies of James Gaughran and Louis D’Amaro — and even a congressional seat, Bellone can take the credit.

But don’t overlook the immediate, micro politics as well. Bellone comes across as Suffolk’s Democratic leader, not just an elected official. His message is that he is a political influencer and strategist for the local party, not his archenemy, county party leader Rich Schaffer.

Even for a tightwad, that’s money well spent.

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