The results are in, and Democrat Kathy Hochul is the next Congresswoman from the 26th District of the State of New York.
With 97% of the precincts reporting:
Kathy Hochul (Dem): 47%
Jane Corwin (Rep): 43%
Jack Davis (Tea): 9%
Ian Murphy (Green): 1%
Incidentally, that means that Hochul might have won outright over Corwin. Davis, while running on the Tea Party line, is a former Democrat who ran on an anti-free-trade platform, and thus took votes from both of the major-party candidates.
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.
On May 24th, the voters of New York Congressional District 26 will go to the polls for a special election to choose a representative to replace Chris Lee, who resigned after an online sex scandal. There are four candidates on the ballot:
Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, the Democrat (also on the Working Families line)
State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, the Republican (also on the Conservative and Independence lines)
Industrialist Jack Davis, the Tea Party candidate
Blogger Ian Murphy, the Green candidate
NY-26 is as rusty as the rust belt gets--chronically economically depressed, taking blow after blow over the decades from the continued loss of manufacturing in the region. It's also been reliably Republican, although not by overwhelming margins: in 2008, McCain beat Obama 52 - 46% in this district.
Last Friday, Siena released a poll on this race. In a dynamic that should by now be familiar, the Tea Party and the Republican candidate split Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, leaving Hochul with a chance: Hochul polls 31% to Corwin's 36% and Davis' 23%. (Murphy gets 1%.) With 9% still undecided, it remains anyone's race.
Aside from the Tea Party/Republican dynamic, this race will act as something as a referendum on the Ryan plan to "reform" Medicare: despite the unpopularity of President Obama in the district (39% favorability), 59% oppose "lessening entitlements like Medicare and Social Security." Hochul has been hammering away at Corwin on this issue, and it might just put her over the top.
Some at DCW have expressed fears that Hochul is too pro-business, and that progressve support should be thrown to firebrand Ian Murphy instead. (Read the comment thread here.)
Hochul is endorsed by the AFL-CIO, Emily's List, and NARAL Pro-Choice. While unabashedly pro-small-business, her statements have not exactly been friendly to a corporatist agenda:
Millions of hard-working Americans have lost their jobs due to unfair free trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA. In New York State alone, NAFTA has cost more than 50,000 workers their jobs.
The United States government can no longer support trade deals that suppress wages, cut benefits, and weaken our workers’ rights to collectively bargain and form unions. Supporting deals like the U.S. – Panama, U.S. – Columbia, and U.S. – South Korea Free Trade Agreements will only cause the same harm that NAFTA has already done. We don’t need to look any further than Western New York to see that these policies do not work.
This could be close--very close. And along with the recall efforts in Wisconsin, this could send a powerful message to conservative politicians that they have gone too far.