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Kathy Hochul
Public Policy Polling (5/20-21, likely voters, 5/5-8 in parens):
Kathy Hochul (D): 42 (35)
Jane Corwin (R): 36 (31)
Jack Davis (T): 13 (24)
Ian Murphy (G): 3 (2)
Undecided: 5 (8)
(MoE: ±2.9%)

Hot on the heels of Siena College's poll, PPP is on the scene with a set of very similar findings -- including Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-Teabagger Jack Davis' dramatic implosion and Kathy Hochul's consequent climb into the low-40s. Here's more, from Tom Jensen:

It appears that Hochul has done a good job of staying above the fray as the campaign has taken on an increasingly negative tenor in its final days. Hochul's favorability is a +14 spread at 51/37, up 8 points from the previous poll when it was +6 at 46/40. Corwin meanwhile has seen a 15 decline in her net favorability. She was already unpopular at -3 (39/42) on our previous poll but that is now much worse at -18 (34/52). Davis has seen the biggest decline in his image though. Voters were evenly split 43/43 in their assessments of him two weeks ago. Now his favorability spread is a horrid -39 with only 23% of voters rating him positively and 62% with a negative opinion.

Davis' presence in the race is certainly a key reason Hochul finds herself in such a strong position. He is winning 16% of the Republican vote while getting only 8% of Democrats. Still it would be unfair to Hochul to say Davis is the only reason she might pull the upset — she is showing a good amount of crossover support, getting 16% of Republicans to Corwin's 11% of Democrats. And she's also up 36-34 with independents. There were not very many House races in 2010 where the Democratic candidate won 16% of Republican voters and the independents.

Indeed -- you have to give Kathy Hochul some credit here; she has masterfully played Jane Corwin's support of the Paul Ryan budget into a district-wide referendum on the fate of Medicare. James Hohmann of the Politico is out with a new piece on the not-so-rapid Republican response to Hochul's broadsides on Medicare; if you like to watch Republicans desperately flop around on an issue like dying fish, I'd strongly recommend giving it a read. For example:

[Corwin] calls Ryan’s plan “a terrific first step” but makes clear that she will never support controversial vouchers for Medicare.

“It’s starting a conversation that we absolutely have to have, but I’m not married to it,” she said. “I certainly would entertain any proposals that would improve any of these programs. … I’ve been saying the same thing since Day One.”

If gutting Medicare and swapping it for vouchers is a concept unworthy of her support, why describe Ryan's plan as "terrific"? Hochul's message is a lot more simple (and, therefore, coherent):

Hochul, the Erie County clerk, relishes the fight because it’s happening on her terms. Hochul said she has ignored Corwin’s charges that the Democrat is distorting her Medicare position. “I don’t engage. I’m on message.”

Hochul suggested that Corwin is the one not being forthright about her position.

“She supports the Ryan budget 100 percent,” she said. “Everybody else, in the media and the world, knows that it includes a voucher program. So I’m not sure how you distance yourself. I can see why she wants to. She just can’t do it. You can run, but you can’t hide from that position that she took a month ago.”

No matter the result on Tuesday, it's clear that Democrats have regained some swagger by turning the Ryan budget into a waking nightmare for Republicans. Jensen has a note of caution before assuming this one is in the bag, though:

There's still reason though to think Corwin could pull this race out. By a 41-39 margin voters in the district would like their new member of Congress to caucus with the Republicans rather than the Democrats in the House. Those planning to vote for Davis hold that sentiment by an even wider margin at 48-20. Davis' support has been plummeting and if that trend continues and conservatives who don't really like Corwin hold their nose and end up voting for her anyway she still has a chance to win a narrow victory.

Additionally, this poll's sample, remarkably, voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a 47-42 margin. The Obama percentage is not far off from 2008 (when he won 46% here), but that's a big drop off from the 52% that McCain actually scored in this district. Either we're seeing a stunning reversal in the "enthusiasm gap" that has dogged Democrats since Obama won the White House, or this sample may be a tad optimistic.



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Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Sun May 22, 2011 at 09:02 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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