Is Carl Paladino Bad for the Tea Party? (Hint: Yes.)

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 20 2010 11:31 AM

Is Carl Paladino Bad for the Tea Party? (Hint: Yes.)

The new Siena poll in New York may put an end to the Carl Paladino media phenomenon -- the Tea Party-backed GOP candidate for governor trails Democrat Andrew Cuomo by 37 points, 63-26. This, in particular, is incredible.

With 69 percent of voters having an unfavorable view of Paladino, he is viewed far more unfavorably that Governor David Paterson, who is viewed unfavorably by 58 percent, according to a Siena College poll of likely New York voters released today.

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There really aren't too many races where the Tea Party-backed candidate is so bad that he's bailing out the Democrat. But Paladino's meltdown may even be hurting the movement in New York. Fifty-two percent of New Yorkers say they have an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, to 34 percent who have a favorable opinion. In the last poll, when Paladino trailed by only 26 points, it was a 40/50 favorable/unfavorable split.

This is New York, obviously, and if you take NYC out of the sample I'm sure the Tea Party is popular enough statewide. But having Carl Paladino identified with the movement isn't helping; he's dragging down the whole party, with some Democrats looking stronger in targeted upstate and Long Island seats, and Kirsten Gillibrand easily leading for re-election.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.