NY-26 Hochul-Corwin: Has the GOP blown another Upstate NY special election?

Going into the final forty-eight hours of the NY-26 special election, Siena has released a poll showing that Democrat Kathy Hochul now leads Republican Jane Corwin by four points.

That’s just outside the margin of error, so this remains a very tight race.  But Hochul is also favored by a number of below-the-fold numbers.

She leads among independents.  Her favorability ratings are much higher than Corwin’s.  And Hochul also fares much better among Republicans (12% support) than Corwin preforms among Democrats (8%).

Hochul’s voters are also more locked in (73% are sure they’re going to vote for her) when compared with Corwin’s (66%)

During my trip to NY-26 to report on the race — a big chunk of territory stretching from the suburbs of Rochester to the suburbs of Buffalo — I found a lot of discontent with the GOP’s approach.

Republican leaders in particular were eager to talk — mostly on background — about the fact that Corwin’s campaign was fiercely negative, slow to respond to attacks, and also clumsy on the Medicare reform issue.

The general consensus was that the candidate in this heavily-conservative district should have campaigned more confidently, more positively, talking about jobs and jobs and more jobs.

But I think Jane Corwin’s situation was a bit more complicated than that.  First, she faced a third-party challenge from Jack Davis, a well-funded, well-known political gadfly who is talking passionately about free trade and outsourcing in a part of the country hit hard by factory closings and the shift of manufacturing to China.

According to Siena, voters who list jobs as their number one issue still favor Davis by overwhelming margins.  He claims 44% of that group compared with 17% apiece for the Republican and Democrat.

So it may be that the GOP was effectively outflanked from the start on one of their key issues.

Corwin also ran her campaign at a time when national Republican leaders were floating trial balloons on a controversial overhaul of Medicare.

Voters now list Medicare as their #1 concern in this race, and only 9% of the folks who hold that view are favoring the Republican.

Ouch.  That’s a hard narrative for Corwin to overcome.

Corwin faced one other big hurdle in this race:  New York is a heavily Democratic state and right now the state’s Democrats are enjoying something of a renaissance.

They are buoyed by the popularity of Governor Andrew Cuomo — who endorsed Hochul — as well as the high favorability ratings of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

This also remains a big union state, which means that politicians like Hochul can mobilize a big Get Out The Vote Effort if a race looks close, which this one does.

None of this means it’s a done deal.  Special elections are notoriously hard to read.  Likely voter models are all over the place.

But after the big GOP debacles of recent years in special elections in NY-20 and NY-23, Republicans themselves are increasingly pessimistic about this race.

This from Politico:

The [Republican] party has launched an effort to lower expectations. On Friday afternoon, American Crossroads sent out an e-mail to reporters reminding them of the spoiler role Davis played in the race.

“Let’s not be silly and ascribe deep ideological meaning to an atypical three-way House race in upstate New York,” wrote spokesman Jonathan Collegio.

But I’m not sure that narrative will work either.  The fact that voters in NY-26 now rate Medicare above jobs in this race — and the fact that Republicans have zero traction even on the jobs issue — will resonate as we head into 2012.


20 Comments on “NY-26 Hochul-Corwin: Has the GOP blown another Upstate NY special election?”

Leave a Comment
  1. Yet another campaigns where the mainstream media is more interested in mindless polls than actual issues.

  2. myown says:

    Has the GOP blown another Upstate NY special election?
    Will we wake up tomorrow and find the world is still here?

  3. JDM says:


    Shouldn’t you be reporting a little more of this story. Like this:

    Davis, who is running in Tuesday’s special election in upstate New York’s 26th district, has turned that contest upside down. He finagled himself onto the ballot as a “Tea Party” contender, even though he has nothing to do with the Tea Party…

    Jack Davis is apparently a well-funded counterfeit Tea-partier.

    Instead of leaving out this important fact, and trying to come up with some other bogus remarks about Medicaid and Republicans, can you please not HIDE facts that are not convenient to your narrative?

  4. JDM says:

    The days of bogus reporting are over. This is the twenty-FIRST century. Listeners and readers can GOOGLE names and get information from other sources.

  5. verplanck says:

    regardless of who is funding the “tea partier” (real or planted), the sad part is that none of the major party candidates can explain their jobs program better than Davis apparently can.

  6. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I thought the point of the Tea Party was that it had no leaders, that anyone who felt the Tea Party spirit was part of the shindig. I never realized that JDM was the decider of who was or was not a fellow traveller.

  7. JDM says:


    I don’t decide. Here. You decide.

    “He [Jack Davis] is a liberal Democrat who endorsed President Obama, supports cap-and-trade, and has given thousands of dollars to big-government liberals. Jack Davis is no more ‘Tea Party’ than Barack Obama is!”

    What gets me is that this election is about the BIG MONEY the Dems are throwing at this phoney, and that point is lost by NPR and its operatives trying to mislead their followers by leaving out this point.

    It’s getting to the point where “mind numbed robots” is going to aptly fit the liberal media attendees.

    NPR: repeat after me…. “big money is spent by Republicans…. big money is spent by Republicans….”

    Nevermind that big money is being spent by Democrats.

  8. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    You crack me up JDM. Nice quote; from who? Someone else who decides who a Tea Partier is or is not?

    And what? The Republicans aren’t spending big money? Tell me, have you ever supported government financed elections, or campaign finance reform, or McCain-Fiengold? If you haven’t then don’t be a big baby about the Dems spending money.

  9. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    By the way JDM, it is 5/22 and if you don’t respond I’ll assume you were Raptured and if you do respond I guess you weren’t chosen; just like me.

  10. JDM says:


    Of course Republicans spend big money, as do Democrats. It’s just that some have been brainwashed into thinking it’s only the Republicans that I make my point

    As for the rapture. A careful look at Matthew 24 shows that many have misinterpreted who is going and who is staying. In Noah’s time, the wicked were “taken”.

  11. JDM says:


    As for the quote, it was Empire Tea Party or something like that, out of Syracuse.

    You know, when I read Brian’s article, I didn’t know who Jane Corwin was, or who Jack Davis was, so I asked the question, “Who?”

    You may recognize that as one of five basic questions learned in reporting 101.

    My charge of bogus reporting to Brian was because he failed to answer the most basic of questions, and instead went right into the scripted narrative of Medicaid, conservative losing, etc.

    khl, Who do you think Jack Davis is? A Democratic plant? A candidate more conservative than Corwin?

    I don’t see you countering my point. I see you “attacking the messenger”. That is also a typical tactic when one doesn’t like the facts.

  12. PNElba says:

    Corwin also ran her campaign at a time when national Republican leaders were floating trial balloons on a controversial overhaul of Medicare.

    What “trial balloon”? Last I heard, the House passed a law that does away with medicare as we know it.

  13. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Honestly, JDM, I’m not going to bother answering your point because I don’t care about the Tea Party. Or to put it a better way, the Tea Party drives me nuts.

    Where were all the Tea Party-ers a decade or two ago when people on my side were saying we need to make adjustments to Medicare and Social Security to ensure that they are solvent for the foreseeable future? Or when we said that the War In Iraq was going to bankrupt us? Or when we said the Bush Tax cuts were unconscionable at a time when we were involved in two wars with no end in sight?

  14. Peter Hahn says:

    live by the nut-jobs, die by the nut-jobs.

  15. Bret4207 says:

    Jeeze Knuck, you’ve asked that before. Should I ask where all the Democrats were when the Republicans were trying to stop slavery? It takes time for people to change and even longer to realize the GOP ain’t so Grand after all. They left us, took a while for us to sort of form a loose network of like minded folks. Pretty simple really.

    On the election- the Republicans couldn’t get a dog catcher elected the way they’re going now.

  16. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Stop it Bret. Everyone knows what is happening. Politics is being played with every issue, all the time on both sides. But the fact is there is only one Party of NO. Democrats will, on occasion not vote in lock-step. With the Republicans it is almost never.

    Even Newt has felt their wrath for simply telling the truth.

  17. Bret4207 says:

    What are you talking about????? This has what to do with the TP???

  18. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    The TP (as you call it) is little more than a segment of the Republican Party, many of whom enjoy wearing funny hats.

  19. Bret4207 says:


Leave a Reply