Who's ahead in polls in New London's mayoral race?

I was curious to hear the other day that some of the candidates for mayor of New London have been polling.

Yes, this is an historic race, choosing the city's first full-time mayor in decades. But I guess I thought a lot of the old political apparatus was still in use. And as far as I know no candidate in a municipal election here has ever done modern polling.

Instead, candidates talk a lot to their friends, as insular as that might seem. And then they and the rest of us use the best instrument at hand to see how the political winds are blowing: Counting yard signs.

The guess work and suspense at least makes for more interesting election nights.

So, to learn more, this week I polled some of the candidates to see who may be polling.

I called Republican Rob Pero, because his name has surfaced as one of the candidates calling voters. I reached a campaign official first and he confirmed, yes, the Pero campaign is polling.

At least one other campaign is, too, the Pero campaign official said, declining to identify the other candidate who may be polling.

When I reached Pero he told me that, yes, he is polling, but he went on to describe his polling as not the kind that people might think of as classic political polling, to see who's ahead.

"We don't have any numbers showing anyone winning this race or losing this race," Pero said, surprising me, because I sort of thought he might have numbers showing he is behind.

I had guessed that some polling might have been showing Pero losing because he has been exhibiting some classic tendencies of the candidate running behind in the polls: attack and confront.

Last week, Pero criticized Democrat Daryl Finizio for a campaign finance filing that did seem, well, if nothing else, rather sloppy. But I think some people wondered why Pero attacked with such gusto.

This week, Pero has been complaining that Finizio won't debate him one on one, even though debates with all the candidates are planned.

Rather than numbers and a guide to who's ahead, though, Pero said his polling, done by volunteers, is helping him stay in touch with voters.

"We use it to campaign to get out our message," he said. "We are advocating for the campaign. We look for things we may not be addressing. ... It's about staying in touch with the community. We ask a lot of questions to find out what people are thinking and what's on their minds."

Finizio told me in an email that he's not doing any polling.

"When you look at the possibility of @4,000 to 5,000 voters my attitude//approach is: Just go talk to them!!" he wrote back, when I emailed to ask if he is polling.

Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh also emailed a response: "You are kidding, right? I do not count votes or poll."

Candidate Martin Olsen also emailed back a response: "I am not doing any polling."

I heard back from write-in candidate Michael Buscetto by way of a voice mail message. "There is data that shows we could do very well," Buscetto said in response to my question about polling.

So it seems that if this is the first political race in New London's history to go modern, with the use of polling, we are not going to learn much about it until it's all over.

Of course, if I were a candidate and I had some interesting poll results I wouldn't share them, either, whether they showed me ahead or behind.

Meanwhile, I have been working on some of the old tried and trues, talking to people and counting yard signs.

I have to say that Olsen and Buscetto look like they are doing well in the yard sign race.

But I guess, otherwise, we will have to continue to talk amongst ourselves and enjoy the guesswork and suspense until Election Day.

This is the opinion of David Collins

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