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Pollster Zogby to speak at JCC

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John Zogby made a career out of predicting what people think about political candidates and upcoming races.

In a speech at Jefferson Community College today, Mr. Zogby, of Utica, will encourage students to give favorable ratings to the American political institution.

“Frankly, there is a reason, perhaps even good reasons, to be disillusioned and worried about the immediate future, if not the long-term future,” Mr. Zogby said several days before his forum, which will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Sturtz Theater. “We have, throughout the world, people who have gone into the streets for the right to vote. That ought to be sobering to young people in particular. Don’t take it for granted.”

Mr. Zogby’s poll, the Zogby poll, should be familiar even to casual politics watchers. In 1996, he correctly predicted that then-Sen. Bob Dole would lose by about eight points to President Bill Clinton, even though most pollsters at the time were predicting a much bigger Clinton landslide, according to the New Yorker magazine.

He’s also gotten a few wrong, like the 2004 presidential race (President George W. Bush beat Sen. John F. Kerry) and the 2000 race for a U.S. Senate seat in New York (Hillary Rodham Clinton defeated then-Rep. Rick A. Lazio). Though he’s come under some criticism from establishment pollsters, according to the New Yorker, he stands by his methods.

“I’m certainly very happy with our methodology, our tremendously accurate results over the years,” Mr. Zogby said. “Like every pollster, we’ve blown a few in 28 years.”

Though the firm still uses the typical phone call, Mr. Zogby has embraced Internet-based polls.

“The future is now,” he said. “We’ve been ahead of the curve.”

His firm, JZ Analytics, also helps businesses conduct consumer research.

He is polling in conjunction with the Washington Times and in October will start publishing polls with Newsmax. Both outlets are conservative.

The presidential race is too close to call right now, said Mr. Zogby, whose firm soon will produce an independent poll about Ohio.

Mr. Zogby said he hasn’t done any polling about the north country’s congressional race, but said the presidential contest could indeed play a role in the outcome. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, faces Republican Matthew A. Doheny of Watertown, a financial portfolio manager.

If President Barack Obama can pull away from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Mr. Owens’s chances will improve greatly, Mr. Zogby said. But he’s not sure that will happen. The race has been much less volatile than previous elections, he said.

Neither the Obama campaign nor the Romney campaign will waste money in New York, which is safely in Mr. Obama’s column. But Mr. Obama will feature in ads from Mr. Doheny, who is trying to tie the president to Mr. Owens. But Mr. Obama actually outpolls Mr. Romney in the north country, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll released Monday.

“There doesn’t necessarily seem to be the widespread revulsion of Obama throughout upstate New York that you saw a year and a half ago,” Mr. Zogby said.

Also at the Sturtz Theater, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 20, Bob Deans, a former journalist who is now a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, will speak about the environment.

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