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Although it is the end of May, there is a special election that is heating up in New York State. I am fortunate enough to see all the commercials every day. Earlier this year, Congressman Chris Lee from district 26 in New York was forced to resign after he sent a shirtless picture of himself in response to a Craig’s List ad which led to the special election.
A new poll released last weekend showed that the Democratic contender, Kathy Hochul, had a slight edge in the Republican leaning district. Siena Research Institute released a poll on Saturday that put Hochul in the lead over Republican candidate Jane Corwin by four percentage points (42 to 38). Independent tea party candidate Jack Davis is trailing at 12 percent. The numbers are even more startling when you look at how Lee’s substantial wins in his past elections in 2008 and 2010. In 2010, he beat his challenger by a whopping 48 percentage points.
Democrats have been attacking Corwin for supporting Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan that would revamp Medicare. Both sides have also attacked Davis, a former Democrat and business man who is running on the Tea Party ticket. Davis entry into the race does complicate matters and he is likely drawing potential Corwin voters.
Corwin’s ads have been primarily negative attack ads. Because of this, her unfavorable rating has dramatically increased while Hochul has increased her favorable rating. Hochul has also made significant increases in polling in a short amount of time. Even with these results though, pollsters caution the difficulty of polling at the House Level. Special elections are even more difficult to predict because it can be hard to determine what voter turnout will be like.
Don Levy, director of the Siena Research Institute, suggests that momentum is on Hochul’s side for the election on Tuesday. “There’s been a significant shift in the race,” he said. “I keep looking at the favorability numbers and I am hard-pressed to see how Corwin can pull it out.”
In Siena’s poll three weeks ago, Hochul and Corwin had identical favorable ratings of 44 percent, and identical unfavorable ratings of 41 percent. “What a difference three weeks and an active campaign has made,” Levy said. “Today, Hochul has a 55 to 38 percent favorable rating while Corwin has slipped to 43 percent favorable and 49 percent unfavorable.”