New York 26th District Special Election Results
Election Results Here
New York – 536 of 627 Precincts Reporting – 85%
|Hochul , Kathy||48%|
|Corwin , Jane||42%|
|Davis , Jack||8%|
|Murphy , Ian||1%|
Breaking News – AP Calls race for Kathy Hochul
How to Interpret Today’s NY-26 Special Election
The special election for the seat of former Congressman Chris Lee, in New York’s 26th district, was never supposed to be close. As voters fill out their ballots today, polls show Democrat Kathy Hochul with a four-to-six-points lead over Republican Jane Corwin, while self-funding “Tea Party” candidate Jack Davis lags far behind but still pulls in double digits.
That’s surprising, considering the district’s historically rightward bent, and it means that the election’s tea leaves will be closely interpreted for omens of the 2012 presidential election.
Many have attributed Hochul’s rise to the unpopularity of Republican Paul Ryan’s Medicare-reform plan, which the Democrat has made a central issue of her campaign, even forcing Corwin to explain at one point, “I’m not married to it.”
But are special elections — which usually take place because a congressman died, or was appointed to higher office, or, in this case, resigned after trying to pick up women on Craigslist — really all that special? In reality, it doesn’t really matter: Whether or not the race for a single seat can signal something about the national mood, political pundits from both parties will make sweeping generalizations about What It All Means. Here’s what they’re going to say, and how much of their spin will be legitimate.
If Democrat Hochul Wins
The Democratic Spin:
Democrats point to this surprising result as the first definitive proof of the powerful opposition to Ryan’s Medicare-reform plan. The plan is clearly as toxic as a stroll through Fukushima, as they’ve been saying all along, and it will likely lead to an Obama victory in November of 2012.
It’s true that voters who care most about Medicare are strongly in Hochul’s camp, according to polling. But the causality here isn’t quite so clear-cut, as Nate Silver explains:
What’s tricky about this is that it isn’t straightforward to determine whether voters are prepared to vote for Ms. Hochul because of the Medicare issue — or rather, whether they were going to vote for her for some other reason, but emphasize Medicare to pollsters because she has also.
There are also other factors to consider — the candidates themselves, their reputations and personalities, for example. So though Medicare will play a role in the outcome, it will be difficult to tell how large that role will be.
And even assuming that opposition to Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan is a decisive factor, how much can that foretell about November 2012? The Medicare plan may be a central issue at the moment, but will it remain prominent in the political discussion fifteen months from now? What if an agreement on reforming Medicare has been reached by then? What if the presidential election, or unforeseeable events, cause other issues to overshadow the debate over Medicare entirely? It’s a long time until 2012.
The Republican Counter-Spin:
Republicans will insist that they would have won if not for the presence of Jack Davis, the eccentric businessman pulling in around 12 or 13 percent of the vote on the Tea Party line, and therefore the results are meaningless, and everyone should forget that this ever happened. The truth though, is that if Hochul wins, it’s a victory regardless of Davis. Davis may be running on the “Tea Party” line this year, but he ran as a Democrat for the same seat in 2004, 2006, and 2008, and his “ideology is too inconsistent to be readily categorized,” as the Washington Post put it. In a recent Siena poll, he draws about the same amount of support from Republicans as he does from Democrats. In other words, if Hochul wins, it won’t be because Davis split the conservative vote.
The Davis effect
There’s probably no more critical factor in the race than Jack Davis, the Democrat-turned-tea-party-candidate who’s spent nearly $3 million of his own funds casting himself as an independent-minded outsider who will save the Buffalo area’s blue-collar workers from losing their jobs to China.
Davis, who’s been the target of GOP attack ads in recent weeks, has seen his polling numbers plummet from 23 percent last month to 12 percent in a Siena Research Institute survey released over the weekend. But the poll found Davis picking up 13 percent of Republican voters — support that would otherwise very likely go to Corwin and could determine a close contest.
Strategists involved in the race agree that if Davis pulls a double-digit share of the votes, Hochul is all but certain to win. But if Davis’s support further erodes and the wealthy industrialist finishes in single digits, Corwin will most likely end up on top.
The darkest Democratic fear: GOP-leaning Davis backers decide at the last moment their vote is better off with Corwin.
What the Polls say
|Poll||Date||Sample||Hochul (D)||Corwin (R)||Davis (I)||Spread|
|PPP (D)||5/21 – 5/22||1106 LV||42||36||13||Hochul +6|
|Siena||5/18 – 5/20||639 LV||42||38||12||Hochul +4|
|Siena||4/26 – 4/27||484 LV||31||36||23||Corwin +5|