NY-26: Democrat Kathy Hochul Takes Lead, Boosted by Medicare Issue

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 21 2011 10:01 AM

NY-26: Democrat Kathy Hochul Takes Lead, Boosted by Medicare Issue

The new Siena poll in NY-26 has Kathy Hochul surging to a marginal lead over Republican Jane Corwin as Tea Party candidate Jack Davis tumbles. The numbers, with trends:

Kathy Hochul (D) - 42 (+11)
Jane Corwin (R) - 38 (+2)
Jack Davis (Tea) - 12 (-9)
Ian Murphy (G) - 1 (no change)

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Davis has taken a battering on the air, from both camps, but most of his supporters have moved over to Hochul. She now has an 8-point lead with independents, and she holds more Democrats (76 percent) than Corwin holds Republicans (66 percent). Hochul has a healthy 55 percent favorable rating. Corwin wasted days explaining why her chief of staff had confronted Davis outside an event, then released a clipped video of Davis shoving him; the damage comes in the form of a 43 percent favorable rating. That's how Hochul is breaking through in a sample size that's 41 percent Republican and 35 percent Democratic -- but the last Siena poll sampled only 31 percent Democrats.* The new, 35 percent number is not out of whack with the district. (Only 28 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Davis.)

One reason for Hochul's surge: In the wake of the killing of OBL, Barack Obama's approval in the district has bumped up to 48 percent. That's about as much support as he won in 2008. Another, bigger reason: Medicare. A full 21 percent of voters say Medicare's their top issue, and Hochul leads by 29 points with those voters. Another source of strength for Democrats: Among voters who don't have jobs, Hochul leads by 7 points.

*Polling director Don Levy, in an e-mail:

We interviewed 1356 voters at the registered voter rates.  We then used a series of questions to determine the likely voters, in this case 639.  Both d’s and r’s are more likely to vote in this district at this time than are I’s.  Note that the R plurality among likely voters is a +6 which coincidentally matches registration.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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