Friday, September 24, 2010

NY Governor's Race Gets Down and Dirty As Polls Keep Rolling In

New York's gubernatorial race appears to be the race to beat as far as sheer nastiness is concerned. Not only are both Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino willing to sling the mud and barbs at each other both directly and through their surrogates, but even former Governor Eliot Spitzer had to chime in about Cuomo.

Spitzer probably can't bear to watch the New York race, because it's one that was his for the taking until a prostitution scandal sent him packing from the governor's mansion. Cuomo was his nemesis in the primary race, but Spitzer ultimately won that race.

This time, Spitzer gets to sit back and throw barbs at Cuomo, even though Spitzer was no patsy when it came to throwing mud or his weight around Albany. If anyone knows how to be a dirty and nasty politician (and that's not counting his ethical and legal woes), Spitzer knows from personal experience.

Then there's the issue of polling, where a slew of polls were released this week and the results raised a few eyebrows. The polling on the race isn't quite all over the place as one would think. For starters, each of the polls was constructed differently - likely versus registered voters, and whether they included Rick Lazio or not.

A Quinnipiac poll found that Paladino was within 6 points of Cuomo among likely voters, but that's looking to be more of an outlier than any of the other polls that came in this week. That includes a Marist poll that has Cuomo up by 19 among likely voters, and Rassmussen has Cuomo up by 33 points among registered voters. Likely voters is a better gauge of outcomes, but the polling all seems to point to a significant Cuomo edge. From Marist:
“Andrew Cuomo is ahead, and right now, this is not a close race,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “He is being bolstered by the Lazio factor, but he is just above 50% among likely voters, and you can’t overlook the enthusiasm Republicans are bringing to this election cycle.”

Regionally, Cuomo runs best in New York City followed by the New York City suburbs. In the Big Apple, 65% of likely voters say they plan to vote for Cuomo while 23% report they will cast their ballot for Paladino. Lazio receives the support of just 6%. Moving to the suburbs, Cuomo garners a majority of likely voters in this region — 52% — while Paladino and Lazio net 30% and 16%, respectively. Upstate, Cuomo and Paladino receive the same support. Both Cuomo and Paladino take 43% of likely upstate voters. Just 7% of likely upstate voters say they will cast their ballot for Lazio. 7% are also unsure.
Cuomo has to get Democrats energized, which is a tall order in the current political climate. Still, registered Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans in New York, which means that Paladino has to hold on to the Republican base and take a strong majority of independents. Further, Paladino has to do more than hold his own against Cuomo upstate.

Paladino is attempting to run as an outsider and is channeling a whole lot of anger and vitrol. He's angry with the legislature, especially Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. He's angry with the governor and the sclerotic nature of the political process.

What he hasn't said is how he would actually fix things. He hasn't talked about what he would do to clean up the corruption in Albany. Other than demonizing Cuomo, Paladino hasn't actually said why he'd be better for the state than Cuomo.

More to the point, in the early ads run in the campaign by Paladino, Paladino has gone on the attack - but hasn't run positive ads. Cuomo has done both. He's run both attack ads on Paladino and uplifting ads about how Cuomo would bring change to Albany. Cuomo is at least attempting to channel the anger about the mess in Albany for positive ends. Whether he's successful remains to be seen.

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