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Rochester Mayor Race: Spouse Arrest May Help Incumbent Mayor

A new WROC-TV/Emerson College poll of Rochester voters finds incumbent Mayor Lovely Warren trailing her challenger City Councilmember Malik Evans by ten points, 49% to 39%. Twelve percent (12%) of likely voters remain undecided. 



A look inside the numbers reveals that amongst very likely voters, Evans leads only slightly, 46% to 45%, while among those somewhat likely to vote Evans has a larger lead, 59% to 13%.

Evans' base of support is among White voters, where he garners 84% support compared to Warren at 11%. Conversely, Warren’s support is greater within the Hispanic (63%-31% support) and African American/Black (47%-37% supports) voters. Warren leads with those without a college degree 43% to 41% while college-educated voters are breaking for Evans 65% to 31%.

When asked about the recent news of Mayor Warren’s husband’s arrest on drug and weapons charges, 83% of Democratic voters report that they are following the story somewhat or very closely. Only 4% of likely voters have not heard about the issue. 

A plurality (39%) of voters said Warren’s husband’s arrest makes them more likely to vote for Warren, while 25% said they were now less likely to vote for Warren. Thirty-six percent (36%) said this news has no impact on their voting decision. 

A majority (56%) of Rochester voters disapproved of Mayor Warren’s handling of the Daniel Prude case, while 17% approve and 23% are unsure. Seven percent (7%) had never heard of the case. Among Democratic likely primary voters, 59% disapprove of how Warren handled the case. 

Additionally, a majority of voters (71%), consider the campaign finance charges faced by Mayor Warren as either somewhat or very serious, while 21% say the charges are not serious, and 9% were unsure. 

When asked what issue the next mayor should prioritize first, voters report being most concerned with jobs at 26%, followed by police reform at 18%, healthcare at 17%, and housing at 15%. Fourteen percent (14%) reported something else, while no other issue fell above 4%.

Voters were split on how the City Council has responded to calls for more police accountability: 39% approve, 36% disapprove and 26% are undecided. Among Democrats, a plurality (48%) approve and 31% disapprove. Among Republicans, a plurality (49%) disapprove and 28% approve. Independents report the lowest approval rate, at 19%, while 42% disapprove and 39% are unsure. 

A majority (65%) of voters view the Rochester Police Department at least somewhat favorably, while 30% view it at least somewhat unfavorably, and 5% are unsure. Independents report the highest favorability of the Rochester PD, at 82%, followed by 68% of Republicans. Among Democrats, 58% see the Rochester PD favorably. 

Voters were also asked to rate the current state of Rochester. A plurality, 40% said they would rate the state of Rochester as fair, while 30% said bad, 22% said good and 7% said excellent.

Regarding potential mayoral control of the Rochester City School District, voters generally opposed the idea, with 46% opposed, 26% in favor, and 28% unsure. 

When asked for their general approval of key public officials’ jobs, 70% of voters in Rochester report approving of President Biden’s job while 25% disapprove. Regarding Governor Cuomo, 54% of Rochester voters approve, while 36% disapprove. Current Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has the lowest approval rating, with 35% approval and 51% disapproval. 


Caller ID

The WROC-TV/Emerson College Mayoral poll was conducted May 21-22, 2021. The sample consisted of Rochester, NY registered voters, n=1000, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by party, age, gender, race and education based on census and voter enrollment records. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines and a cellphone sample of SMS-to-web.

Key Takeaways
  • Challenger Malik Evans leads Mayor Lovely 49% to 39% with 1 month to go
  • Rochester Police Department popular with a majority of voters
  • Voters split on how City Council has responded to calls for more police accountability
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