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NY-26: Defying the Odds

by: SarahLawrence Scott

Mon May 23, 2011 at 10:57:22 AM EDT

On the heels of a Siena poll showing Democrat Kathy Hochul up by 4 in the special election in New York's 26th congressional district, PPP has released a poll showing Hochul up by 6. Both polls show very similar results, which is notable for a special election with multiple candidates: normally figuring out who is actually going to vote makes these kinds of races very tough to call. 

Notably, Kathy Hochul has momentum: according to PPP, her favorability rating has gone from 46/40 a few weeks ago to 51/37. It is rare for a candidate's unfavorables to drop at this stage in a race, and indeed her opponents are now viewed much less favorably, with Republican Jane Corwin going from 42% unfavorable to 52% unfavorable, and Tea Party candidate Jack Davis going from 43% to 62%.

This is a complicated race, with four candidates on the ballot. The fourth is Green candidate Ian Murphy. I'd say he's not much of a factor, drawing 1% of the vote according to Siena and 3% according to PPP. But as we learned in 2000, those small segments might make the difference in a race so close.

But look at those favorability ratings again: 51% in favor of Hochul, and 52% unfavorable toward Corwin. So even if all of the Davis and Murphy voters jump ship and choose between the two major-party candidates, Hochul wins. That's so startling, it needs to be said again: in a straight up race between Hochul and Corwin, Hochul would be projected to win.

How can that be? In part, it appears that Democrats are fired up and Republicans are dispirited. In 2008, McCain beat Obama in this district by 6%. But in PPP's poll, the likely voters tomorrow voted for Obama by 5%. That doesn't mean the poll is suspect: it means that a lot of McCain voters aren't planning to vote this time.

Which means this race will come down, as so many do, to Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts. There's still time to help. In a number that seems quaintly small by today's standards, the Hochul campaign just sent out an email saying they are looking to raise $8500 more today to finance the GOTV effort. If you'd like to contribute, you can do so here.

SarahLawrence Scott :: NY-26: Defying the Odds

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