Decision 2020

Malliotakis Narrowly Leads Rose in Tight Staten Island Race, NBC 4/Marist Poll Finds

Rose, a moderate Democrat, won an upset in the heavily Trump-supporting district in 2018

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In the nastiest race in New York Democrat Max Rose is trying to ward off a challenge from Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. But, where do Staten Island voters stand right now? Government affairs reporter Melissa Russo is in the newsroom with an exclusive News4 Marist poll.

What to Know

  • GOP challenger Nicole Malliotakis holds a 2-point lead over incumbent Rep. Max Rose in NY's 11th District, an NBC 4 New York / Marist Poll finds
  • Rose and Malliotakis, both in their 30s, have traded bitter accusations during the campaign
  • The race, covering Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, is considered one of only a couple dozen tossups in the House this year

Staten Island Rep. Max Rose is narrowly trailing in his bid for a second term, in what appears to be one of the few truly tight Congressional races nationwide, according to an exclusive NBC 4 New York / Marist Poll released Monday.

The first-term Democrat Rose trails Republican Nicole Malliotakis 48 percent to 46 percent among likely voters in New York's 11th Congressional District, a gap well within the poll's margin of error. Malliotakis is a long-time member of the state Assembly who lost a bid for mayor in 2017.

But among all registered voters, Rose leads Malliotakis by one point, suggesting he would benefit strongly from higher turnout.

“This is one of the few congressional cliffhangers around the nation,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist Poll. “Two factors may decide who wins: how Trump and Biden do in the district at the top of the ticket and whether or not turnout is off the charts.”

Demographically, Malliotakis leads among Staten Island residents, white men without college degrees and those over 45. Rose draws his strength from the district's Brooklyn residents, Latinos, white women with college degrees and voters under 45.

Rose, an Army veteran who was wounded in combat in Afghanistan, was just 31 years old when he upset Rep. Dan Donovan, the former Staten Island district attorney, in 2018.

A moderate in the city's only Republican district, he was always expected to have an uphill battle, trying to become the first Democrat to serve more than one term representing Staten Island since the 1970s.

Malliotakis, the daughter of Greek and Cuban immigrants, was first elected to the Assembly in 2010, just days before her 30th birthday. She and Rose have traded bitter accusations in an increasingly nasty campaign, one that has hinged in part on whether Rose betrayed police by attending a Black Lives Matter protest in June.

You've likely seen the political ads. One of the races to watch is right in our backyard but it sounds more like a street fight than a campaign. Democratic Representative Max Rose and GOP State Assemblywoman Nicole Maliotakis are fighting for the one swing congressional district in the city. As the election project's Melissa Russo shows us it's the swings and jabs in the ads that are catching voters' attention for better or worse.

"This split-decision poll confirms what everyone knows: this election will come down to turnout - and right now the Malliotakis campaign is getting crushed. Our internal data, along with the early and absentee returns, show record Democratic turnout while Malliotakis continues to significantly trail President Trump. Polls and pundits didn't think we could win in 2018 and we proved them all wrong. We look forward to doing so once again," a statement from Rose said.

Rob Ryan, a spokesperson for Malliotakis, said, "Today's WNBC-TV/Marist Poll confirms what our internal polling has been showing in recent weeks; this is an extremely tight race and Max Rose is in deep trouble. The millions of dollars that Rose, Nancy Pelosi and special interest PACs are spending on deceptive negatives ads aren't working. The voters of the 11th Congressional District know that Max Rose supports Bill de Blasio on bail reform, defunding the NYPD and raising taxes; that's why Nicole Malliotakis will defeat him on Election Day."

The Staten Island Advance endorsed Rose for re-election Sunday morning, saying he "has done nothing that would suggest voting him from office. Quite the contrary." At the same time the editorial board condemned Malliotakis -- who the paper has strongly supported in past -- as a "Trump apologist."

The New York Post, on the other hand, endorsed Malliotakis Monday, saying that while both she and Rose have denounced Mayor Bill de Blasio, Malliotakis was the only one to actually run against him.

As of Oct. 21, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates just 26 House races nationwide this election as a tossup -- New York's 11th District among them.

The NBC 4 / Marist poll also found President Trump leading former Vice President Joe Biden by 7 points in the district, a slightly narrower margin than his win over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The survey was conducted Oct. 19-21. The margin of error among the 650 likely voters polled was 4.7 percent.

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