Mere days before the aldermanic election in Ward 1, Democratic Incumbent Sarah Eidelson ’12 holds a nine-percentage-point lead over her Republican opponent, Paul Chandler ’14, according to a News poll conducted this week.
Of 289 likely voters both registered in Connecticut and currently residing in the ward, 144 said they would for Eidelson and 119 said they would vote for Chandler. Twenty-six students said they planned to vote but had not yet decided for whom. Those numbers, weighted to minimize unequal participation in the poll among class years and pared down to eligible and likely voters among the nearly 1,000 students who completed the entire survey, give Eidelson exactly 50 percent of the likely vote, compared to 41 percent for Chandler and 9 percent undecided.
Eidelson said her conversations with students during dorm canvasses have led her to believe that she leads her opponent in support by a wider margin than the poll indicates. Still, she said the numbers made her cautiously optimistic.
Calling the poll incredibly encouraging, Chandler said the numbers are better than he expected and prove his campaign has growing momentum.
“We can take this,” Chandler said. “It shows we’ve come a long way since the start of this campaign and that people take my candidacy seriously. Now we just need to focus on closing the gap.”
Male respondents were roughly equally split between Eidelson and Chandler, while Eidelson outpolled her opponent among female respondents by 20 percentage points. Seniors and sophomores were nearly split between the two candidates, while juniors and freshmen both favored the incumbent by more than 15 percentage points.
Seventy-three percent of respondents indicated varying degrees of allegiance to the Democratic Party, compared to 15 percent who identified as Republicans and 12 percent checking either Independent or other. Fifty-seven self-identified Democratic voters registered in Connecticut said they planned to vote for Chandler, compared to two Republicans who said they support Eidelson. The preponderance of students surveyed said party affiliation had some impact on how they planned to vote, as opposed to a great impact or none at all.
Matt Breuer ’14, a registered Democrat said the numbers shocked him.
“There’s such a structural advantage for Sarah being the Democrat and the incumbent. She should be much further ahead,” Breuer said. “If you didn’t know any better, you would think Yale is a Republican-dominated campus based on the different level of energy surrounding the two campaigns.”
But former Ward 1 Alderman Mike Jones ’11 said the numbers were unsurprising given how little party affiliation matters in campus politics. He said the students who actually vote are the ones who feel personally connected to the candidate.
As of Oct. 31, 1,465 Democrats are registered to vote in Ward 1, compared to 171 Republicans, 1,341 unaffiliated and 15 other.
Former Yale College Democrats President Zak Newman ’13, who managed the unsuccessful campaign of Vinay Nayak ’14 against Eidelson in 2011, echoed Jones’ response to the poll. Both Yale graduates praised Eidelson as a skilled leader on issues affecting Ward 1 residents and — more importantly, they added — the city as a whole. Both said those accomplishments are more important than direct constituent services in Ward 1, a fact often lost on Yale voters.
On the question of campus engagement, Chandler came out far ahead of Eidelson: 271 students described Chandler as somewhat or greatly engaged, compared to 177 describing Eidelson the same way. Roughly a quarter of student respondents registered to vote in Ward 1 said Eidelson has not engaged the Yale community at all. The majority of students said she has engaged “somewhat” or “a little.”
“Being a presence on campus and being a community member of Ward 1 is the fundamental thing [students] will vote on,” Chandler said. Eidelson said she has reached out to students, holding weekly office hours and inviting students to provide input on possible revisions to the city’s charter.
Eidelson attributed the difference in perceived levels of engagement to campaign strategy. She said she has prioritized “face-to-face conversations over having my name up all over campus on signs or all over Facebook.” Chandler said he is perceived as a larger presence because he is a current student and said Eidelson stopped being engaged on campus when she graduated.
Of the students who said they were voting for Democratic-endorsed mayoral candidate Toni Harp ARC ’78, more than 96 percent of them said they would also be voting for Eidelson. Chandler outpolled Eidelson among supporters of petitioning Independent mayoral candidate Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 by nearly 25 percent.
Chandler has outraised Eidelson thus far $3,427 to $2,817.