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Democrats are waving around two sets of poll numbers, both of which claim that Democrat Mark Poloncarz is running neck-and-neck with his Republican opponent in November’s election, Erie County Executive Chris Collins. The first of these polls was conducted by the Poloncarz campaign, and the other was commissioned by AFSCME, a union which represents governmental workers.

Neither poll, obviously, can be called independent and unbiased. Still, there are a couple interesting results of the Poloncarz campaign’s poll that the Collins campaign cannot easily dismiss: First, people have a far more negative view of Collins than they do of Poloncarz. Collins’s name recognition is outstanding—98 percent of those polled know who he is—but 38 percent of those polled don’t like him. Only 46 percent do like him. Poloncarz is disliked by just 17 percent of those polled and liked by 42 percent. His name recognition stood at 78 percent, as of the third week of August, when the poll was conducted.

These numbers suggest a strategy for Poloncarz: Drag Collins into the public eye—because once voters meet him, plenty don’t like him.

• We don’t take too seriously the notion that last week’s Independence Party primary is a harbinger of general election results. But, in case you’re wondering, here’s why both Republicans and Democrats argue that the numbers break in favor of their guy.

The two Republican candidates for countywide office, Chris Collins for county executive and Chris Jacobs for county clerk, faced nuisance candidate in their pursuit of the Independence Party line. Both won resoundingly: Collins got about 60 percent of the vote, Jacobs about 70 percent.

So Republicans point to the results and say, “Our guys won—by a lot!”

Democrats have their own interpretation, of course. Fewer Independents voted in the primary for county executive than did in the race for county clerk, which defies common sense: The county executive’s race is far more important, and Collins has much greater name recognition than Jacobs. Democrats argue that this means that, at best, Collins fails to motivate voters; at worst, he alienates voters. Further, they argue that Collins should have won by a much greater margin than 60 percent to 40 percent.

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