Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
A new Siena poll released this morning shows Republican Jane Corwin leading Democrat Kathy Hochul and the Tea Party's Jack Davis in a special election for New York's 26th congressional district.
Corwin leads Hochul 36 - 31, but five points is a relatively narrow margin in the solidly Republican district. "In a district with a seven-point edge for Republicans among enrolled voters and years of Republican representation, Corwin’s support lags behind Republican enrollment, while Hochul’ s nearly matches Democratic enrollment," said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.
Jack Davis, the Tea Party candidate, trails both candidates with only 23 percent support.
The rest of the poll reflects trends recently seen nationwide: strong support for higher taxes on the wealthy (62-35), and strong opposition to Medicare and Social Security cuts to help close the deficit (59 - 38). The conservative district also wants to see last year's health care overhaul repealed.
Siena observes that Hochul voters support all the Democratic positions on these issues, while Corwin voters support all the Republican positions. "Davis voters, however, like the district overall, support the Republicans on health care and the Democrats on entitlements and taxes," said Greenberg.
The thing most voters overwhelmingly agree on, however, is Andrew Cuomo. The governor enjoys a 72 percent approval rating in New York's 26th district.
“This may have been Paladino country last November, but now Democrat Andrew Cuomo is viewed overwhelmingly favorably in this district, while voters have a strongly unfavorable view of two other Democrats – President Obama and Nancy Pelosi,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg also noted that, while Corwin currently holds the lead over Hochul, the latter's supporters seem more committed to their candidate, making that five point margin slightly more tenuous.
The special election for New York's 26th district will be held on May 24th. Republican Congressman Chris Lee resigned the seat in February after personal ads and shirtless pictures of him began circulating on the internet.