Bishop Campaign Touts Early Lead In Polls Over Altshuler

Rohma Abbas
The East Hampton Press

An early poll commissioned by Democratic U.S. Representative Tim Bishop’s campaign suggests that he currently holds a double-digit lead over Republican Randy Altschuler, the congressman’s possible challenger this November and the man who came within 600 votes of unseating him two years ago.

The poll, which was paid for by Tim Bishop for Congress, concludes that the incumbent congressman currently holds a 17-point lead over Mr. Altschuler, who hopes to challenge Mr. Bishop a second time this fall. While he recently secured the Independence Party line, Mr. Altschuler, who was the Republican nominee in 2010, must first hold off a challenge from fellow Republican George Demos in a primary election that is scheduled for June 26 before securing the GOP line this November.

The poll’s results are based on responses from 402 potential general election voters gathered between March 20 and 25 throughout the 1st Congressional District. It was conducted by the Global Strategy Group, which has offices in Manhattan, and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

Mr. Bishop leads Mr. Altschuler 53 percent to 36 percent, with 11 percent of voters still undecided, according to a statement issued by the pollster. It states that Mr. Bishop has a high favorable rating among potential voters, with 55 percent saying that they like the congressman and 31 percent saying they do not. It also notes that Mr. Bishop is “well-liked across partisan lines,” explaining that he possesses a 69 percent favorable rating among Democrats and a 59 percent favorable rating with independents. Even four in 10 Republicans polled gave him a favorable rating, the report states.

It goes on to claim that Mr. Altschuler is “a weak candidate scarred from his unsuccessful 2010 campaign,” and that Mr. Bishop’s strong standing “can partly be attributed to a clear shift in the political environment since the GOP wave of 2010.”

When reached this week, Diana Weir, Mr. Altschuler’s spokeswoman, dismissed the poll. Asked if the results made her nervous, she said, “Not at all.”

“You sure it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke?” she added.

Ms. Weir said it is likely that the individuals being polled were given “push questions,” or those that were worded to elicit a specific response.

“A poll is a snapshot in time, as you know,” she said. “It helps you guide your process. It may help you direct a little bit of your campaign, but it’s really not setting [it in] stone. The poll is on Election Day, as far as I’m concerned. That’s the one that counts.”

Oliver Longwell, Mr. Bishop’s spokesman, said the poll proves that Mr. Bishop’s support is strong across the 1st Congressional District, which includes all five East End Towns, Brookhaven Town and most of the Town of Smithtown.

“We think it’s very good news,” Mr. Longwell said. “It shows deep and broad support for Tim and rejection of outsourcing millionaire Randy Altschuler. We think it’s very encouraging. It means that we’re just going to keep working harder.”

It is unclear how much the poll cost, but Mr. Longwell said that, in the past, similarly sized undertakings commissioned by Mr. Bishop’s campaign cost around $23,000.

There is one name that’s missing from the poll: Mr. Demos, who is waging a primary election against Mr. Altschuler for the Republican line in two months, said that if he loses, Mr. Bishop will go on to win his sixth term of office.

“Everyone knows that he already beat [Mr. Altschuler] once in the best Republican year of the century,” Mr. Demos said. “If Randy Altschuler couldn’t win in a year Republicans couldn’t lose, how else are people ever going to vote for him two years later, when it’s not going to be the Republican year of the century?”