Meng camp questions the demographics of a close Halloran poll

Meng and Halloran. (Azi Paybarah)
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Republican Dan Halloran released a poll earlier today, conducted by the Republican polling firm McLaughlin & Associates, showing Halloran within three percentage points of the Democratic candidate in the race, Assemblywoman Grace Meng: 46 percent to 43 percent. Among voters who had "heard" of both candidates, Halloran, a freshman Councilman, did even better, with a lead of 40 percent to 35 percent.

The poll did not include one vital piece of information: the ethnic demographics of its survey sample.

The summary of results released by Halloran's campaign showed voters' religion (46 percent Catholic), party affiliation (49 percent Democrats), age (35 percent between 56-65) and gender (51 percent female). But it did not break down the racial and ethnic background of its respondents, which could be key in a district split between white and Asian-American voters.

The Meng campaign suggested Halloran's pollsters had cherry-picked from respondents who might be more favorable to his candidacy.

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Meng's campaign spokesman, Austin Finan dismissed the poll, saying, "Once again, Dan Halloran just makes things up," and that the absence of demographic information strongly suggests "this poll does not represent the diversity" of the district.

The demographics in the district are important, even if they're not necessarily a clear advantage for Meng.

Meng is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and has represented Flushing, home to a rapidly growing Asian population, in the Assembly. Thanks to a court-ordered redistricting of New York's congressional lines earlier this year, the new 6th congressional district is about 40 percent Asian.

And while Meng is bidding to become New York's first Asian-American member of Congress, she also stresses her New York roots, careful to always note she was born in America and studied at Yeshiva University. She frequently mentions her husband and two small children, who have identifiably American names.

But, as demonstrated in a recent debate at the Juniper Park Civic Association, there appear to be deeply held reservations about the growing Asian population in some parts of the district.

When Halloran described his immigration platform—deportation, English-only legislation—the audience burst into applause.

Halloran, for his part, has sometimes been on the less-than-charitable end of news coverage focused on identity politics. During his 2009 race for the Council seat, the Queens Tribune featured him on their front page, under the headline "Pagan Lord," in reference to his practicing Theodism.