Poll: Lovely Warren trails Malik Evans in Rochester mayoral race with weeks to go until primary

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — With just a few weeks left before votes will be cast, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is trailing her Democratic primary challenger, City Councilman Malik Evans, according to a new poll.

A new WROC-TV/Emerson College poll released Monday finds Warren trailing Evans by 10 points, 49% to 39%, with 12% of likely voters remaining undecided. The two candidates are set to go head-to-head in a live debate Tuesday on News 8 WROC at 7 p.m.

Evans’ lead narrows amongst “very likely” voters, 46% to 45%, while Evans has a much larger lead from those polled who said they were “somewhat likely” to vote, 59% to 13%.

In the poll, Evans has strong support from white voters, leading Warren 84% to 11%. Conversely, Warren’s support is stronger with Hispanic voters (63% to 31%) and Black voters (47% to 37%). College educated voters broke for Evans, 65% to 31%

When asked about the recent news of Mayor Warren’s husband being arrested, 83% of Democratic voters polled said they are following the story somewhat, or very closely. Only 4% of likely voters said they have not heard about the issue.

However, a plurality of voters, 39%, said the news of the arrest makes them more likely to vote for Warren. 2% said they were less likely to vote for her, while 36% said the news has no impact on their voting decision.

A majority of Rochester voters polled, 56%, said they disapproved of Warren’s handling of the Daniel Prude case, while 17% said they approved, 23% said they were unsure, and 7% said they had never heard of the case. Among Democratic likely primary voters, 59% of those polled said they disapproved of Warren’s handling of the Prude case.

Additionally, a majority of voters, 71%, said the campaign finance charges faced by Warren as either somewhat, or very serious, while 21% said the charges are not serious, and 9% said they were unsure.

When voters polled were asked what issue the next mayor should prioritize first, jobs was the top response at 26%, followed by police reform at 18%, health care at 17%, and housing at 15%. 14% reported something else, while no other issue fell above 4%.

Voters were split on how City Council has responded to calls for police accountability: 39% approve, 36% disapprove, and 26% said they were undecided. Among Democrats, 48% approve and 31% disapprove on this topic. Among Republicans, 49% disapprove, and 28% approve. Independents reported the lowest approval rate on this issue, with 19% approval, 42% disapproval, and 39% unsure.

A majority of voters, 65%, said they view the Rochester Police Department at least somewhat favorable, while 30% view it unfavorably, and 5% are unsure. Independents report the highest favorability of the Rochester PD, at 82%, followed by 68% of Republicans. Among Democrats, 58% see the Rochester PD favorably.

Voters were asked to rate the current state of Rochester: A plurality, 40%, said they they would rate the state of Rochester as fair, while 30% said bad, 22% said good, and 7% said excellent.

Voters generally opposed the idea of mayoral control of the Rochester City School District: 46% opposed, 26% in favor, 28% unsure.

Poll slides

When asked their general approval of key public officials’ jobs, 70% of voters in Rochester report approving of President Biden’s job while 25% disapprove. Regarding Governor Cuomo, 54% of Rochester voters approve, while 36% disapprove. Current Mayor Warren has the lowest approval rating, with 35% approval and 51% disapproval.

This poll was conducted May 21 and 22, with a sample of 1,000 Rochester voters with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3 percentage points. Of the 1,000 people polled, 649 are registered Democrats, 101 are registered Republicans, and 250 are Independent or other.

The data sets were weighted by party, age, gender, race and education based on census and voter enrollment records. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines and a cellphone sample of SMS-to-web.

The primary elections are scheduled for June 22, 2021.

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