With the Democratic primary for Buffalo mayor only four weeks away, incumbent Byron Brown has a substantial lead over competitors City Comptroller Mark Schroeder and Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant.
Defeating the three-term incumbent in the upcoming Democratic primary looks to be a tall task for his opponents. A new Siena College Research Institute poll shows Brown’s favorability among Democrats is at 74 percent. That is higher than the 70 percent in 2013.
Siena Director Don Levy said 55 percent of Brown supporters also indicated there was no chance they will change their minds.
"You add all that together and you have voters who tend to feel as though the city is on the right track, they're happy with the way the mayor is performing and right now 51 percent say they intend to vote for him," Levy said.
The poll shows Schroeder is drawing 24 percent of voters, while Grant has only 13 percent.
However, the race is far from lost. Levy said one way Grant and Schroeder can cut into Brown’s lead is by making the case they can do a better job of advancing Buffalo’s interests through the Governor.
"Right now, two-thirds of Democratic primary voters that we spoke to said that they think the Buffalo Billion is having a positive impact on Buffalo, only 23 percent think it is not," Levy said. "Again, if that's perceived as a connection between Mayor Brown and the Governor or the Governor's administration, that continues to bode well for the Mayor."
Should the Buffalo Billion be seen differently, he said, that could change. The poll also indicated improvements are needed in several areas.
"For example, how responsive local government is to the needs of citizens," he said. "Well, there, 61 percent of Buffalo likely primary voters give the government a grade of no better than fair or poor. In fact, even 45 percent of Brown voters say that. It's overwhelming among either Grant or Schroeder voters."
Levy said polled voters also indicated Buffalo is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to crime and treating all neighborhoods fairly.
He said another issue that may influence voters is the condition of local roads and other public works. However, two-thirds of polled voters believe things are improving on the issue.
Democrats have an enrollment edge of more than six-to-one in Buffalo, so the Democratic primary for mayor is pivotal.
WNED|WBFO is hosting a mayoral debate on Sept. 6. The event will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. on WNED-TV and WBFO. The debate is being co-sponsored by The Buffalo News and WGRZ-TV. WBFO News Director Brian Meyer will moderate the debate. Panelists will include Buffalo News Political Reporter Bob McCarthy and Claudine Ewing of WGRZ-TV.