SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A few weeks on the campaign trail can make a difference for a Syracuse mayoral candidate – as evidenced by a new Spectrum News/Syracuse.com/Siena Research Institute poll – with a shift among the front-runners Ben Walsh, on the Independence line, and Democrat Juanita Perez Williams.
Among the 620 likely Syracuse voters polled, 36 percent said they would vote for Walsh if the election were held today, compared to 34 percent who said they would vote for Perez Williams.
The polling took place between October 29 and November 1. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent.
With the election just days away on Tuesday, 12 percent of people polled remain undecided.
"I'm a little surprised the undecided is as high as it is less than a week out," Greenberg said. “I think there are a couple things that could happen. One is that these undecided voters may decide not to vote in the mayoral election. The other is which campaign does a better job in the closing days of attracting them."
Another area where Walsh takes the lead is favorable opinion:
Walsh has a 66 percent favorable rating to go along with his 16 percent unfavorable mark. Comparatively, Perez Williams: 51 percent favorable and 32 percent unfavorable.
"Campaigns have an effect,” Greenberg explained. “Campaigns educate voters. What we're seeing here is that the Perez Williams campaign has not done as an effective job as the Walsh campaign in painting a negative picture of the opponent."
Perez Williams touted party unity following her win in the Democratic primary. Joe Nicoletti threw his support behind her and asked his supporters to do the same. In the weeks following, there's been anything but unity as Walsh has gained endorsements from a number of Democrats. The poll reflects that.
"The fact that the Democratic candidate is only winning among Democrats by 17 points is concerning," Greenberg said.
There are a few more names on the ballot for mayor.
Republican Laura Lavine, Joe Nicoletti – who is still on the Working Families line despite suspending his campaign – and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins are far behind the front-runners with single digits.
- Lavine: 7 percent
- Nicoletti: 6 percent
- Hawkins: 5 percent
"It would take a series of Hail Marys for them to get across the finish line. This is clearly a two-person race," Greenberg said.
The focus now for all campaigns should be on convincing those undecided voters, the polling expert said. And there's only a finite amount of time to do so.