BUFFALO, N.Y. — Early voting has been underway. But with one more weekend of "campaigning" before election day Tuesday, we tried to take stock of the campaigns in the race for Buffalo mayor and some Erie County offices with the help of some veteran analysts.
While some polling has shown Byron Brown with a significant lead over India Walton, there is this observation to lead off from an analyst with Democratic ties. Bruce Fisher said, "India Walton won fair and square in the primary but the fact is that Byron Brown has a very, very strong chance at winning re-election."
And in Fisher's opinion there is a key element could determine the outcome. "This is too close to call at the moment but many folks expect that if Byron Brown wins, he owes his victory to the door knocking and the phone calls of organized labor."
But we also know Walton has the strong support of her base and her campaign was able to raise funds and bring in some prominent politicians. Republican connected observer Carl Calabrese said, "It's all aimed at her base. At that 35% of the Democratic party that is of the far left - if not very warm to the socialist agenda. Let's put it that way. It's aimed at them. It's aimed at getting their enthusiasm up. If she's got any chance to win it, it's going to be on turn out. That she's gonna have to supercharge her turnout."
Of course Brown faces the challenge of making sure people know how to vote for him as a write-in candidate.
And again Walton has that strong team as Fisher notes.
"She has a very dedicated volunteer base. But she also benefits from something that we see every once in a while which is incumbent fatigue."
In addition, as we have seen with the Brown campaign's emphasis in its political TV ads, Calabrese points out that, "I would suspect that everything he says from now until Tuesday is gonna be aimed at the number one issue of crime and public safety and making the distinction of what he has done and will do versus what she has said she will do."
Then we can go back to the point of turnout and support for the mayoral candidates. UB Political Science Professor Shawn Donahue says recent polling indicates most people have apparently decided how they want to vote with some area of the city as strong-holds for both.
He says it is South Buffalo for Brown.
"It's a part of the city that is much more of a white ethnic population. You have a lot of city employees there in the South District or Old First Ward. A lot of police officers," Donahue said.
But then for Walton, Donahue said, "Her strongest areas were the Delaware and Niagara Districts in the primary. In particular I was looking at it but I did see individual precincts - she did very, very well in the Elmwood Village area."
And Fisher has one more point to bring up.
"The general thinking among people I talk to is that a low turnout benefits Walton and a higher turnout benefits Brown. And nobody knows at this moment what the impact of early voting will be."
Finally there is a larger political picture with the impact of potential turnout Tuesday on the other Erie County races. That is especially the case for Sheriff which has been in Republican hands for decades.
"The Mayor's race is going to help Democrats in the countywide elections. Because a bigger turnout in Buffalo means if they vote for Mayor they'll probably vote for other Democratic candidates on the ballot."
Carl Calabrese also spoke of the potential turnout factor in the city affecting the county races and upsetting a political tradition. "You get a much lower turnout of Democrats in the city of Buffalo and that has always helped Republicans as they mitigate what they lose in the city with the suburbs, . That's not the case this year. If Byron Brown had won his primary in June the dynamics of this race are different."
Calabrese says latest figures show the Democratic Party has more than a 135,000 voter registration margin over the Republicans in Erie County.