A new poll showed Democrat Kathy Hochul has become the unlikely leader in a tight three-way New York special election, with just 15 days to go until Election Day.
Republican Jane Corwin has long been considered the frontrunner in the western New York 26th district, which is among the most conservative in the state. But Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm that was among the most accurate in the 2010 cycle, found the Democrat had a narrow lead.
Specifically, Hochul led Corwin 35 percent to 31 percent, with third-party candidate Jack Davis taking 24 percent. PPP surveyed 1048 likely voters May 5-8. The poll, commissioned by liberal website Daily Kos and the Service Employees International Union, had a margin of error of 3 points.
The poll is the first to show Corwin, an independently wealthy state lawmaker, behind. It also was released the same day that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is in the district to stump for Corwin.
“I think they have a pretty long record of being inaccurate with their polls,” Corwin spokesman Matthew Harakal said of PPP.
When asked, Harakal declined to release internal polling from the Corwin campaign to counter the PPP survey.
“We’re very comfortable with where we are,” he said. “The fact is that Kathy Hochul and Jack are on the wrong side of the issues. The only poll that matters is on Election Day.”
A Siena College poll and an internal Democratic poll recently released showed Corwin clinging to a small lead. While national Democrats have suggested the tightening race is the result of House Republicans’ vote to fundamentally reshape Medicare, the shift more likely represents the dynamics of the three-way race featuring two millionaires who are splitting the Republican vote. While Davis has run as a Democrat three times in the past, he will appear on the ballot on the “Tea Party” line.
Recent polling suggests that Davis is draining support from both candidates, but far more from the Republican. That means that Corwin would likely dominate a traditional two-way race, regardless of what Republicans plan to do with Medicare.
Harakal reports that more than 300 people attended a $150-a-head lunch fundraiser with Boehner today. “He’s here to say that Jane’s the only conservative in the race,” he said.
The May 24 special election is being held to fill the vacancy caused when Rep. Chris Lee (R) abruptly resigned earlier this year.