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A Contrarian View

July 16, 2010

Reporters have dutifully reported the fundraising numbers and latest polling results in the gubernatorial race and concluded that Andrew Cuomo is continuing to roll toward victory in impressive fashion. 

They are missing something. 

Yes, Cuomo’s margin over Lazio is significant if not overwhelming, but consider this: At comparable times in the last three gubernatorial cycles, the candidate regarded as the presumptive favorite had much greater advantages in terms of resources and public support. 

For example, Spitzer was near 80 percent approval in the polls and had an even larger war chest at the same point in the ‘06 election cycle. And even Pataki had greater comparative advantages over McCall and Vallone in ‘02 and ‘98. 

What reporters are really missing here is Cuomo’s drop in favorability.

Siena has him at just 54 percent. That’s down from the mid 60s a few months ago. If the trend continues he could be below 50 percent in the next poll. 

And here’s something nobody has considered: Siena and others are tallying registered voters, not likely voters. When pollsters shift over to tracking likely voters, there could be a real surprise. Dems are not motivated this year. Just the opposite. 

Adding to the problem for Cuomo is the fact that he’s gone out of his way to keep core elements of the Dem base away from him. He’s done this to avoid looking like an “insider.” But it has the effect of weakening his base. 

Cuomo and his people believe that the base — unions, minorities and party activists — has nowhere to go. They reason that core Dems aren’t going to vote for Lazio or Paladino, and that’s right. But what the Cuomo camp is missing is that those voters could easily stay home.

What we may be heading toward is a 52-48 Cuomo victory over a very weak opponent. Sure, a win is a win, but it wouldn’t be impressive at all and it wouldn’t provide the mandate for Cuomo to enact the sweeping change he’s promising. 

We can’t help thinking that Cuomo should be much more active, and should be spending some of that bulging war chest on statewide advertising.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 18, 2010 8:21 AM

    If Lazio was less of an embarrassment, there could be a race. Ed Cox was right.

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