A new poll from Public Policy Polling (D), commissioned by Daily Kos, finds that Democrats could potentially win the May 24 special election for NY-26, the House seat vacated by GOP Rep. Chris Lee. He resigned after sexually suggestive pictures and e-mails of his were made public. The reason the Dems could win: A split in the conservative vote between the official Republican nominee and a wealthy frequent candidate running on the “Tea Party” line.
The numbers: Democratic Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul 35%, Republican state Rep. Jane Corwin 31%, Tea Party businessman Jack Davis 24%, and Green Party candidate Ian Murphy (the same person who conducted the infamous 20-minute prank call with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, with Murphy posing as Republican financier David Koch) at 2%.
The TPM Poll Average gives Corwin 33.5%, Hochul 33%, Davis 23.5%, and Murphy 1.5%.
From Daily Kos’s analysis:
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, a former Republican, has run for the seat three times before, becoming the Democratic nominee in 2004 and 2006. (He nearly won the 2006 race, due to incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Reynolds’ connection with the Mark Foley scandal, but did not campaign actively except for self-financed ads.) He ran in the Democratic primary in 2008, only to result in he and the DCCC’s favored candidate attacking each other and benefitting a third candidate who won the nomination. He sought the Republican and Conservative Party ballot lines for this special election, but is now running only on the “Tea Party” line.
The poll was conducted from May 5-8, surveying 1048 likely voters, and has a ±3% margin of error.
Ed Note: This post has been corrected from an earlier version, which misidentified the 2006 incumbent as Tom Davis. The 2006 incumbent was Rep. Tom Reynolds.