Yesterday, we got the first big hint that the Tea Party wave may have crashed all the way to the normally safe haven of New York when a Quinnipiac poll put Carl Paladino just six points back of Andrew Cuomo in the gubernatorial race. Today, Survey USA confirms that Paladino has made it a race, but the bigger news is in one of the two Senate races. Harry Reid declared Kirsten Gillibrand the hottest member of the Democratic caucus, but her campaign has gone decidedly lukewarm (via Jim Geraghty and Instapundit):
In the Special Election to fill the final 2 years of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s term, incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand and former Congressman Republican Joe DioGuardi today finish effectively even, Gillibrand’s nominal 1-point lead being within the survey’s theoretical margin of sampling error. Gillibrand leads in the 5 boroughs of NYC, trails elsewhere. Men vote Republican, women vote Democrat and, in this contest, cancel each other out. Lower-income voters break significantly Democrat. Middle-income and upper-income voters break slightly Republican.
The New York Democrat and Chronicle buries this lead a bit, mentioning it deep in an article mainly focusing on Cuomo’s troubles:
Other SurveyUSA results: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joseph DioGuardi is running neck and neck with Democratic incumbent KirstenGillibrand for the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton; and Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer holds a commanding 21 percentage point lead over challenger Jay Townsend, a Republican.
The actual split is 45/44 Gillibrand, whose support comes entirely from the Big Apple. DioGuardi gets almost 2-1 support from younger voters and splits the middle-age ranges with Gillibrand. The incumbent Democrat wins seniors by 56/32, a demographic that DioGuardi will have to address quickly in order to surpass Gillibrand.
On party affiliation, both candidates lose about the same percentage of their own parties: 15% of Republicans go for Gillibrand and 12% of Democrats go for DioGuardi. The challenger gets a plurality of independents, 45/38, with 14% going to one of the “other” parties on the ballot. That could be a productive target for a last-minute push if the Republican can convince those independents that he can bring the change they seek by tossing a Democrat out of office.
Assuming the poll numbers hold up, and Survey USA is normally pretty reliable, then Democrats really are at risk of losing the Senate as well as the House. At the least, losing a seat in New York would be a tremendous rebuke to the Democrats and may signal a resurgence of the GOP in the Northeast.
Update: A little more confirmation on the NY Senate race from Quinnipiac, which shows Gillibrand up six and below 50%:
In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tops Republican Joseph DioGuardi 48 – 42 percent.
Sen. Gillibrand leads 86 – 9 percent among Democrats while DioGuardi leads 88 – 8 percent among Republicans. Independent voters split with 42 percent for DioGuardi and 41 percent for Gillibrand.
New York State voters approve 49 – 37 percent of the job Gillibrand is doing and give her a 43 – 32 percent favorability rating. For DioGuardi, 61 percent haven’t heard enough about him to form an opinion.
She’s been in the Senate for two years, and a quarter of likely voters don’t know her well enough to give her a favorability rating? That seems like it might be the problem in a nutshell. DioGuardi can still define her and get a lot more upside while doing so, if eveything falls into place for him.