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Kathy Hochul

Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos and SEIU (5/5-8, likely voters, no trendlines):

Kathy Hochul (D): 35
Jane Corwin (R): 31
Jack Davis (T): 24
Ian Murphy (G): 2
Undecided: 8
(MoE: ±3.0%)

Wow! Two prior polls—one from Siena College, the other a Dem internal—showed this race extremely close, but this is the first survey to feature Kathy Hochul in the lead. The wild card, once again, is Crazy Jack Davis, the Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-teabagger who is unquestionably hurting Corwin more than Hochul. While 19% of Democrats say they favor Davis, 24% of Republicans do the same. Davis in fact seems to be squeezing Corwin from both sides: He siphons off a large chunk of self-described conservatives (29% to Corwin's 52%), and also runs better among independents (31-20). Hochul, however, does best among that group at 37, helping her nose into the lead.

The biggest question, of course, is whether a third-party rich guy vanity candidate like Davis can hold on to his share of the vote once people actually go to the polls. It seems like more often than not, characters like Davis see their support slide by election day—but that's just two weeks away, so perhaps he can hang on, given the short timeframe. Davis's favorables are less bad than I had expected, an even 43-43. Corwin, meanwhile, is slightly underwater at 39-42, while Hochul is the only one in positive territory at 46-40. If disaffected independents and grumpy teabaggers continue to decide they like Davis more than Corwin, Hochul really could snatch this one away from the GOP.

Which is why Republicans are so desperate to avoid another "Scozzafava" situation. You may recall the New York special election they blew back in 2009 thanks to a split in the right-wing vote between two candidates, Doug Hoffman and Dede Scozzafava. So it's no surprise that Corwin is up on the airwaves attacking Davis for his Democratic past, and I'm sure we'll see more like this in the closing days of the campaign. What's more, Speaker John Boehner is in the district today, trying to shore up what should have been a sure thing.

So I wouldn't be surprised if the NRCC starts spending big here to avoid a serious embarrassment—and I hope the DCCC gets involved, too. If we somehow win, it's an amazing upset; if we lose, well, we were never supposed to have a chance here anyway. No matter what, it's going to be an exciting stretch run.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon May 09, 2011 at 11:20 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Elections.

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