Pollsters have sometimes struggled to get an accurate read on New York City voters, but their work held up this week.
The standout performer was the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which nailed the Democratic mayor’s race: it had Public Advocate Bill de Blasio at 39 percent (he won just over 40 percent), former Comptroller Bill Thompson at 25 percent (he garnered 26.2 percent) and Council Speaker Christine Quinn at 18 percent (15.5 percent).
Douglas Schwartz, Quinnipiac’s polling director, said that polling close to the primary helped. “Our final poll was from Friday through Sunday, so we were able to catch some late breaking movement toward Thompson,” he said. “We also conducted three polls in the final two weeks, so we had a really good sense of this race.”
Unlike 2009, Quinnipiac included cell phones—standard practice today—and reverted to random-digit dialing instead of registered voter lists. Another factor could have been the open race.
“Sometimes there’s something to do that,” Schwartz said. “In some races where there’s a well-known incumbent going up against an unknown challenger, a disproportionate number of the undecideds could break toward the challenger at the end, so the gap may change.”