Baristanet-SurveyUSA Poll: Turner Has Slight Edge

BY  |  Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 10:10am  |  COMMENTS (50)

A public opinion poll commissioned by Baristanet has found that Real Progress Montclair candidate Karen Turner has a slight edge in a tight three-way race for mayor of Montclair.

The poll also found that 34 percent of people who have been following the story about the assisted living project proposed for Church Street favor it while 39 percent oppose it, and 27 percent are not sure. The Montclair Council is scheduled to have a second reading next Tuesday on amending the Hahne’s redevelopment plan for downtown Montclair to allow the proposed facility on Church Street. The resolution was passed unanimously on first reading on April 3.

The survey was conducted by SurveyUSA, a nationally-known independent polling firm based in Clifton, and can be seen here. The margin of error on the mayor question is ± 5.3 percent. The margin of error on the assisted living facility question is ± 6.2 percent. The poll was conducted over the past two nights by telephone calls to 500 registered voters. Only residents who said they had been following news stories were asked to answer the questions. The order of the mayoral candidates was rotated in the survey.

SurveyUSA elaborates: Twelve days to the election for Mayor of Montclair, Karen Turner may have a small lead over Robert Jackson and Harvey Susswein – depending on which voters show up on Election Day. Subject to the caveats that follow, SurveyUSA has it: Turner 33, Jackson 24, Susswein 23.

Turner’s supporters are young and female. Young voters, in all elections (municipal to presidential), are the least reliable. If they fail to turn out on election day, Turner’s support here will be over-stated. Turner is strongly supported in the white and Hispanic communities. She is strongly supported among women, consistent with her “Montclair Moms” constituency.

Jackson’s support is older and black. He is backed by 31 percent of Montclair’s senior citizens and 43 percent of Montclair’s blacks. If black turnout (estimated here at 11 percent) is understated in these results, Jackson will outperform the poll numbers.

Susswein’s support is broad based, slightly more male than female, slightly older than younger, and evenly distributed across the township’s whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Susswein needs old, white, men to vote in disproportionately large numbers in order to outperform these poll numbers.

If you examine only those voters age 50+, the contest is a 3-way tie, with Jackson, Turner and Susswein each within a point of the other. If you look at only those voters age 49 and younger, Turner leads her challengers by more than 2:1. The more women who vote, the better for Turner, the only female candidate.

Voters are typically late to focus on low-turnout, off-year municipal elections, and often news is made, and voter focus intensifies, in the final few days of the campaign. That said, these poll numbers may shift, but based on how each candidate’s core constituencies align, a blow-out win is not foreseen for any one candidate, a close finish is foreseen on Election Day, May 5 8.

At the last council meeting, councilor Cary Africk proposed hiring a consultant to study the assisted living project further. That proposal failed 4-2. Many Baristanet readers have questioned the Church Street location and mayoral candidate Harvey Susswein has strongly opposed the project.


  1. POSTED BY Frank Rubacky  |  April 26, 2012 @ 10:43 am

    I project the turnout on Election Day May 5th will be abysmal township-wide. Just an educated guess.

  2. POSTED BY Frank Rubacky  |  April 26, 2012 @ 10:44 am

    Of course, the margin of error for the Election Day happening on May 5th is plus or minus 4 days.

  3. POSTED BY Liz George  |  April 26, 2012 @ 10:46 am

    Isn’t it May 8

  4. POSTED BY Debbie Galant  |  April 26, 2012 @ 10:48 am

    typo fixed.

  5. POSTED BY Frank Rubacky  |  April 26, 2012 @ 10:49 am

    I like the idea of a Saturday election.

  6. POSTED BY Debbie Galant  |  April 26, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    Perhaps someone would like to comment on the substance rather than the typo?

  7. POSTED BY newhere  |  April 26, 2012 @ 11:17 am

    20% undecided and no idea who will actually show up on election day, the poll means it is wide open and if you are a candidate better get your people to the polls by van, mail, taxi, horse drawn carriage (does Rocky have a vote?), piggy back, or whatever else it takes.

  8. POSTED BY scottie  |  April 26, 2012 @ 11:19 am

    Do we know who tends to vote, or not to vote, in local elections in Montclair?

  9. POSTED BY tjg1  |  April 26, 2012 @ 11:30 am

    I think Frank was trying to confuse us all.
    I’m not overly surprised that Turner is leading. She and RPM have done the best job speaking to the challenges we face as a community; $250 mill in debt, 93% tax increases over ten yrs, lack of transparency and accountability, disaffected and uninvolved citizens and school budgets that are stressed from municipal spending. For my money RPM has articulated the clearest and most comprehensive plan to address those challenges while preserving our values as a community. The two other slates in this race, with Remsen and his cronies behind “For Montclair” and all the past disastrous office holders on “Montclair 2012”, represent the status quo and the policies of past administrations which got us into this mess to begin with. This is one old white guy that is voting for RPM.

  10. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  April 26, 2012 @ 11:33 am

    Time to shake hands and kiss babies!

  11. POSTED BY newhere  |  April 26, 2012 @ 11:41 am

    If you want to vote by mail need to get your application to the clerk by 7 days before the election.

    turnout in off year local elections is generally very low across the country.

    No idea if that’s changed with the vote by mail option.
    Turnout in recent local elections according to the Board of Elections report on why we shouldn’t switch to November:

    1996 36.7%
    2000 24.1%
    2004 30.1%
    2008 28.65%

  12. POSTED BY Howard Beale  |  April 26, 2012 @ 11:44 am

    This old white guy voted (absentee) for Turner and Carlson but went with Jacobson in my 3rd ward. I like his background and I like his fighting spirit.
    I think he will work well with the rest of the council.

  13. POSTED BY dazedandconfused  |  April 26, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    Weird, I received the poll call last night and was asked 3 simple questions.1) Was I planning on voting.2) Who I was voting for, Susswein was press 1, Turner was press 2 and Jackson was press three. 3) What age bracket I was in. I was not polled on gender or race nor was I asked if I supported the Assisted Living facility.

  14. POSTED BY Frank Rubacky  |  April 26, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

    OK, I had my fun at Bnet’s expense – minimal as it was.

    Here is the thing with this poll analysis. Dr Baskerville is running unopposed in the 4th Ward.
    I don’t think the scope and methodology of this poll could evaluate this variable’s impact on 4th Ward turnout. Yet, as a national polling organization, they could speak to their experience, as they did with their point on young voter turnout, or simply acknowledge it is potentially significant to the margin of error calculation.

  15. POSTED BY jeffjacobson  |  April 26, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

    Dazed, it appears there were two polls in the field yesterday, one from Baristanet and one that appears to have been undertaken by as yet-unidentified slate (not ours). The Baristanet pollster’s call to my house came while my wife and I were putting our daughters to bed, so we didn’t answer. Too bad — I guess that accounts for part of the poll’s 4% margin of error.

    Debbie, I’m glad Baristanet did this — it shows Harvey and the rest of our For Montclair slate that we have to work hard over the next 12 days to, among other things, demonstrate to folks like “tjg” that our slate has published more concrete ideas to reduce spending and debt than our competitors combined, and that our slate, which has no current or former Council members running on it, offers the best chance for the change Montclair needs.

    Jeff Jacobson
    Third Ward Candidate
    For Montclair

  16. POSTED BY townie  |  April 26, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

    FWIW, the Mayoral debate is here:

  17. POSTED BY tjg1  |  April 26, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

    I respectfully disagree with you Jeff. While you have mentioned previously that you have never met Mr. Remsen, it is very apparent to anyone paying attention that he is very involved with Harvey, who has praised him in the past. Under his watch the town’s debt increased by $130M and property taxes increased by 40%. With him as an advisor and model for Harvey, I shudder to think of what the next 4 years will look like if “For Montclair” wins the day.

  18. POSTED BY paine  |  April 26, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    Thanks tjg1! I have to cross off Harvey Susswein. I started to imagine Ed Remsen at Susswein’s Sunday night political salon meetings. Remsen put the citizens of Montclair through too much unnecessary paine. Susswein as mayor would mark the return of Ed Remsen. On the other hand, I think Jeff Jacobson could distance himself from Remsen, if Susswein wasn’t mayor. I’ve watched Jacobson interact nicely with the other slates.

    I’ve met every candidate. Still trying to narrow thing down:

    Mayor (undecided)
    Jackson might be able to generate revenue for Montclair. At the firehouse debate he pointed to all the development in NYC as evidence of a built out town continuing to develop.
    Turner would get the house in order, and she might be able to do a better job involving Montclair’s residents to solve problems.

    At Large (one pick so far)
    LeeAnn Carlson. Need a thoughtful problem solver like her on the council
    Still undecided between Tim Barr, Pat Hurt and Peter Zorich.

    First Ward (undecided)
    William Hurlock is all business. Rich Murnick did a good job on a difficult council and I like how he worked with Cary Africk.

    Second Ward (undecided)
    Walter Springer is a great idea man and a get it done person. Selma Avdicevic has experience in the areas the next council needs, especially finance.

    Third Ward (undecided)
    Jeff Jacobson might be the best candidate in Montclair. Chris Swenson’s connections with the BOE would give us the best chance to reform education in this town, and it needs reforming. Sean Spiller would be my No. 1 if he wasn’t conflicted with being a union head.

    Fourth Ward (no choice)
    Dr. Renee Baskerville. Fierce defender of her ward, but not impressed with the results. Her area should be booming near the Bay Street Station and it’s just not. She gave a pass to the BOE as a member of the Board of School Estimate (“Happy with staffing of school nurses”). All the candidates seem to be saying they will copy her monthly meetings, which is a tribute to her.

    Email me if you think you can help me narrow it down. I’ll keep going to events and collecting information.

    Paine (A tribute to Thomas Paine)

    [email protected]

  19. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  April 26, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

    paine….i think i’m in the same place as you with one exception, i crossed jackson off the list for a number of reasons.

  20. POSTED BY nickcharles  |  April 26, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

    Is Baristanet endorsing? I don’t remember if you did in 2008.

  21. POSTED BY nickcharles  |  April 26, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

    All the candidates seem to be saying they will copy her monthly meetings, which is a tribute to her.

    Of course they say they will. It’s basically free publicity once a month.

    But even some current council members said they would hold meetings like hers, and they’d hold one or two, and then never again. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, and, to Renee’s credit, she gets it done. Of course, she does farm most of the organizing of the meetings out to her supporters.

  22. POSTED BY oliver  |  April 26, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

    Paine, you don’t need to worry about voting for all the wards–just the one you live in.

  23. POSTED BY Debbie Galant  |  April 26, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    No, we don’t endorse candidates. But I’m very interested in paine’s personal ballot and would love to have others post what they’re thinking.

  24. POSTED BY tjg1  |  April 26, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

    Paine, Great post and an excellent assessment. My two cents;
    Even taking Jackson’s past record and questionable campaign contributions out of the picture I have to take Turner. While I like some of his development ideas, they won’t produce tax revenues for at least two or three years. If we don’t get the house in order before then, we’ve got major problems. I agree with everything you said about Carlson, and I’m also going to vote Zorich because of his connection to town, his incredibly thoughtful answers in the last few forums and I’m a supporter of RPM and I truly believe they need a majority on the council so the next four years are not a stalemate on many of the major issues. I’m second ward and while I like Walter and agree with your assessment, Selma has impressed the hell out of me.

  25. POSTED BY paine  |  April 26, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

    Oliver, I wish I could vote in all the wards. It’s like not being able to fill out half of the NCAA bracket. I’m starting to accumulate a lot of information that won’t be worth much after May 8. So I share it here and with friends in the other wards.

    Latest observations: Renee Baskerville seems to spend a ton of money on clothing. And, I noticed her driving a pretty fancy Mercedes. I know she’s a doctor but I can’t find her listed with a practice. What does she do for a living?

  26. POSTED BY crankydave  |  April 26, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

    Paine: I initially liked Springer, too; but, talks too much about education. sounds like he’d start throwing money at the HS. Tending toward Selma. Def not Robin. Zorich? keeps harping on the ‘Whole theater” thing. And fuzzy answer when someone asked why their slate couldn’t attract someone for 2nd ward. Harvey? I think it’d be more of same. no real control.Can’t see him running a council meeting that gets out of hand. Remsen could; Jerry never. K W-D? only if we want to be Pweoples’s Republic of Montclair. I can’t decide on mayor – agree Robert could bring big development. but we need lots of singles , too. Stop swinging for the fences.

  27. POSTED BY nickcharles  |  April 26, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

    What does she do for a living?

    The good doctor works for two public school districts, Irvington and East Orange. She makes about $60,000 total from those jobs.

  28. POSTED BY paine  |  April 26, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    nickcharles, Thank you! Is Dr. Baskerville married? Kids? House? It doesn’t seem to add up. That car looks like it could have cost $60,000.

  29. POSTED BY oliver  |  April 26, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

    OK, Paine, help me with the 3rd ward. You seem to like everyone there…who do I pick? Thanks for your research and civic-mindedness!

    (As far as Renee goes, unless there’s an incredible last-minute write-in campaign, there’s no use worrying about how she can afford her car. And really it’s none of our business….)

  30. POSTED BY dazedandconfused  |  April 26, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

    nick, you always seems to have the inside scoop on the current council members and the inner workings of 205 Claremont, interesting.

  31. POSTED BY paine  |  April 26, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

    Oliver, I’m struggling with the third ward. Each of the three candidates have been my No. 1 choice at different times. I think I’m down to Jacobson and Swenson, but only because I didn’t like having a retired police officer on the council this time. It just complicates town council business. Even with complications, I would have picked Sean Spiller, a teacher and union president, over Lewis, Frier and Zief. I have to give some more thought to choosing between Jacobson and Swenson. Jacobson is smart, professional, hardworking, responsive and cares a lot. Swenson is smart and might be the only candidate that can open up the BOE to more scrutiny and reform.

  32. POSTED BY Liz George  |  April 26, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

    Where’s ROC on this thread…?

  33. POSTED BY walleroo  |  April 26, 2012 @ 11:35 pm

    If I lived in the 3d ward, I’d vote for Swenson. He’s got a head for money and a heart.

  34. POSTED BY walleroo  |  April 26, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

    I saw the cgi debate tonight. I went in trying to decide between Susswein and Turner. Jacksomi don’t like because he plays the race card, and also his talk about developing the town out of it’s problems seems like hooey. Susswein really had me going for a while, especially during his eloquent talk on how the schools need support for kids in the middle. But then late into the debate Turner had the balls to say that the pre-k might be a Cadillac and maybe we could serve more people with a Chevy.then she talked about debt and finding cost savings.

    And then, and this was the coup de grace, they were asked by a member of the audience what their number one priority would be. Turner, to my surprise, said safety, and proceeded to talk about the need for better street lighting. That struck me as pragmatic,and thoughtful. Susswein had some philosophical answer, I can’t even remember what he said.

    All three of the candidates were smart, well educated, experienced and seemed committed.Jackson, though, is a developer and something of an insider, and I think he’d spend a lot of money on big plans and compromise too much on personnell. Susswein is smart, passionate about Montclair, but he’s too soft–another Fried, I fear. Turner is no visionary. She’s not charismatic. She may be the least intelligent of the three. She’s a bean counter. But she knows beans very well. She knows where each one is. And I thing what we need more than vision is some sound management. Shell be boring, but at least she may rein spending under control and take a few steps, like privatizing sanitation, that are long overdue. Turner is getting my vote.

  35. POSTED BY Sandy  |  April 27, 2012 @ 12:20 am

    Regarding that car and the $60,000…IF you see a person getting a new car every 3rd year….you can bet the apple orchard it is LEASED ! That is the true tip-off. It is not theirs, and will never be …. At the end of the lease, the car goes back to the dealership, and the car is gone, likewise the gelt paid for 60 months….

  36. POSTED BY Cary Africk  |  April 27, 2012 @ 6:22 am


    Here’s my take away from the debate:

    Harvey led the group in knowledge of the schools, and having served on one of the highly acclaimed committees had extensive knowledge of school financial issues.

    With regard to “studying” the Pre-K, the Pre-K has been studied to death. Making it more efficient? There’s been YEARS of study. Making the money go further? Again years of study.

    The are many pre-k alternatives in Montclair and they aren’t all crying “we need vouchers and we need money.”

    We do have a pre-k that offers much more than the educational component of pre-k, the neighborhood child care center, and they do deserve our support. But they provide a CHILD CARE function, all year round. Infants are accepted.

    They are expanding through a new facility paid for by NJ Transit as part of the Bay Street project. And they have received substantial County Development Block Grant money over the years.

    Montclair’s own pre-k, the MECC that Harvey speaks about, has been working with them on fund raising and other issues for years.

    It’s not like, “Oh, here’s a great idea let’s study Pre-k.” It’s been studied for 40 years.

  37. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  April 27, 2012 @ 7:21 am

    ‘roo, i agree with your assessment. Boring and smart will be much better than contentious and foolish.

  38. POSTED BY complainerpuss  |  April 27, 2012 @ 7:51 am

    I agree about boring and smart. In fact, I’ll simply settle for a mayor who isn’t condescending. That smirk hasn’t left Fried’s face in nearly four years.

  39. POSTED BY paine  |  April 27, 2012 @ 10:16 am

    walleroo, I was at the CGI debate, which appeared to have about 200 in attendance. I agree with your observations (but I heard Karen Turner say Rolls Royce to Chevy on the Pre K).

    As much as I like Cary Africk, I just can’t go with Harvey Susswein. I got up close and personal with Ed Remsen. I didn’t like the experience and it wasn’t good for most of Montclair (but friends did well). Ed Remsen is a key adviser to Susswein. Ed Remsen’s people are helping Susswein’s campaign. I just can’t risk an Ed Remsen comeback.

    I’m caught between choosing Robert Jackson and Karen Turner. You summed it up perfectly. Jackson appears creative and has vision, but I don’t think he’ll fix town hall. Turner will fix town hall, but she appears to have little vision or creativity (an accountant).

    Anyone have any ideas on how I should break my tie?

    [email protected]

  40. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  April 27, 2012 @ 10:23 am

    “she appears to have little vision or creativity ”

    for me this is a BIG plus. “vision” and “creativity” are costly and wasteful at this point. We’re being run into the poor house with “vision” and “creativity”.

  41. POSTED BY complainerpuss  |  April 27, 2012 @ 10:23 am

    If you want vision, visit an optometrist. I’m leaning heavily toward Turner. The last thing we need, in my humble opinion, are more numbskulls who have the audacity to think the role of the Council is to administer “social justice.”

  42. POSTED BY tjg1  |  April 27, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    You could break it by looking at Jackson’s track record of tax increases. Or you could break it by looking at where his campaign contributions are coming from and who he might be beholden to. Or you could break it by seeing that Turner has no connection to any politician in this town that helped create our $250M debt and our runaway property taxes. TJG

  43. POSTED BY cspn55  |  April 27, 2012 @ 10:54 am

    i went yesterday, all were unimpressive and somewhat pandering. did watch Jeff Jacobson in the classroom thing on TV 34 and he will get my vote in the 3rd ward – he is trained to do this stuff and seems very intelligent. chris swenson means well but essentially says nothing. spiller is smart too, but very young and his role as a union president makes me uneasy when he will be on the town-side of issues. i am leaning Turner slightly but not enthusiastically, Carlson, Jacobsen and need to figure out the other at-large (there are 2 right?). I do hope Selma wins the 2nd ward – she also seems like she wants to change this neverending train of debt and tax hikes.

  44. POSTED BY cspn55  |  April 27, 2012 @ 11:00 am

    let me clarify that – both Jackson and Susswein have VERY impressive resumes and Turner’s is fine, but not sure how high she rose at KPMG and and I admire all (especally Turner) for her community services for many years. but no matter who is elected,our taxes will be at least 20% higher (or if Christie’s cap is adhered to then whatever that max will be) by the end of their terms in 2016.

  45. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  April 27, 2012 @ 11:17 am

    “but no matter who is elected,our taxes will be at least 20% higher (or if Christie’s cap is adhered to then whatever that max will be) by the end of their terms in 2016.”

    Even more reason to put aside “vision” (park st., wildwood, senior centers) for a couple of years and fix what’s already here that’s broken.

  46. POSTED BY oliver  |  April 27, 2012 @ 11:44 am

    Another consideration will be how well everyone can get along, as I think it’s unlikely that a whole slate will be elected together (and RPM doesn’t even have a whole slate). Who will play well with each other, as well as Baskerville (who is unopposed)? What we don’t need is another dysfunctional council that can’t behave civilly to each other (and sometimes not to the public, either).

  47. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  April 27, 2012 @ 11:56 am

    oh, I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind grid lock when it comes to voting for more spending and debt.

  48. POSTED BY walleroo  |  April 27, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

    You’re right, Paine, she did say Rolls Royce. My bad! I was a bit tired last night writing that, and the goddam iPad softkeys don’t help.

    None of them said much, all of them pandered by not saying what we all know to be true: that we can’t have everything we want. Saying that plainly to that particular room people would have attracted jeers. The peer pressure to conform–to say nothing bad about anything, to imply no cuts to anyone’s favorite program–runs pretty thick.

    Consider those circumstances, I thought that Turner had real cojones. There was hissing around the room when she dared to suggest that perhaps maybe the pre-K could do more–reach more kids–by narrowing its delivery to the basics (my words not hers). My guess, Cary, is that she doesn’t really think pre-K needs further study, but rather she was trying to avoid coming out and saying what she believes to be true, for the same reasons the rest of them stuck for the most part to platitudes.

    I think in different circumstances Susswein and Jackson would make good mayors, but now is not their time. We don’t need a compassionate, avuncular mayor like Susswein. We don’t need a developer who’s got strong ties to the political status quo like Jackson. We need a plodding, dull bean counter who can put our house in order.

    I don’t mean to be so backhanded in giving Turner this endorsement. All three candidates are exceptional people, very accomplished in their realms. They each seem to be motivated at least in part by the desire to give back, and want to do good. We are fortunate to have such quality people in town.

    What the town desperate needs at this moment is some semblance of order, someone who understands what “debt” means. Turner, as best I can remember, was the only candidate who even mentioned debt.

  49. POSTED BY cspn55  |  April 27, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

    agree w/ Walleroo. Turner should be most practical choice and while hated to see pandering and no conviction at the debate, hope she wins. Not to beat a drum, but also have been impressed w Jacobson and hope he wins my ward. He Turner, Baskerville and Carlson and hopefully Hurlock (if he wins ward 1) will make an infinitly better council than we have now.

    Did anyone catch Weller accuse Turner in an audience question (in a CCM report that she didn’t bring w her to actually cite) being a racist at the CGI debate?

    Also how does Fried even show his face around town? All anyone does is mention how disorganized, out of touch and mismanaged we have been in the past.

  50. POSTED BY wildwoodben  |  May 04, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

    Assisted living tips it for me. Seniors buying in to a $4000 a month apartment house next to a noisy bar causing which is already sleepless nights for neighbors at The Siena is poor judgement. Such use of prime downtown property makes absolutely no sense to me. If Susswein is agin, he’s my man. And, as a benefactor to the empty Wildwood Ave lot, frankly I’m tired of looking at the dump as it is, so Clean and Green is good, but so is market rate housing. However, a developer should have the ability to buy it as one parcel and do a nice job without the artifice of 50 X 150 lots. Three nearby Grove St properties have been improved immensely in the past few years, adding tax revenue by the way. So, Susswein, Murnick 1st ward and Zorich, Carlson at large.

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