The Republican candidate and the tea-party wildcard have each poured millions of their own money into the New York 26 special election
With polls opening today in the race to replace former congressman and Craigslist cruiser Chris Lee (R), Democrat Kathy Hochul appears poised for an upset victory in New York's Republican-leaning 26th Congressional District.
Recent polling by Siena College shows Hochul, who serves as Erie County Clerk, narrowly leading Republican state Assemblywoman Jane Cowrin by four percentage points. Earlier polling in the race had shown Corwin ahead.
Hochul has been helped into the lead by tea-party millionaire businessman Jack Davis, who has siphoned votes away from Corwin. (Davis collects 12 percent of the vote according to Siena.) The race is also being cast by some as a bellwether for public opinion on the Paul Ryan Medicare plan.
Republicans are already spinning a prospective loss for Corwin. Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the Karl-Rove-aligned Super PAC American Crossroads, wrote an email to reporters on Friday arguing that the race was competitive mostly because of Davis's presence:
I'm not sure what the overarching meaning is there, other than that some older men are willing to spend vast amounts of treasure pursuing inexplicable ends. No one doubts that the 2012 environment is different from what it was in 2010, where Republicans were able to win elections without even running campaigns. A head-to-head would be more difficult now than it was six months ago. But let's not be silly and ascribe deep ideological meaning to an atypical three-way House race in upstate New York.
As Slate's Dave Weigel points out, that's unusually early for such doom-and-gloom expectations-setting.