Orange County, N.Y.
Tucked away in the bedroom community of the Hudson Valley lies a late-breaking sleeper race between Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney and former Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth. The competition has received little national attention, with most prognosticators giving Maloney a decided edge.
But on the ground, it’s a different story. Democrats and independent observers are saying the race will be a tight one, and with good reason. Hayworth has a few factors working in her favor: Obama’s approval rating stands at 38 percent, low turnout is expected with no exciting top-of-the-ticket state races, and Hayworth has as much Congressional experience and name recognition as Maloney.
While the sole public poll conducted this election season — a mid-September Siena poll — has Maloney up by eight points (50 to 42 percent), few if any think the split is that wide. Earlier this week, Hayworth’s campaign released an internal poll showing her behind by only four points, 43 to 39 percent, within the poll’s margin of error.
Also, in a non-scientific survey released earlier this week, Siena requestioned 253 of the 590 likely voters it polled in September. This "sample of a sample" gives Hayworth a whopping an 11-point lead — 52 to 41 percent.
Siena College pollster Don Levy is quoted by Hayworth's campaign saying, "it's safe to say this is going to be a nail-biter."
Back in 2012, Hayworth led Maloney by 7 points (49-42 percent) in a mid-October Siena poll, but she still lost 48.7 to 45 percent in a district Obama carried 51.4 to 47.1 percent.
In a race this volatile, Democrats are certainly not underestimating Hayworth’s chances. Just last week, the DCCC devoted an additional $180,000 to run ads up until the election in the New York City media market — the most expensive market in the country.
With Obama’s dismal approval ratings in the Empire State, Sean Maloney is taking a cue from Alison Lundergan Grimes and hitching his wagon to Bill Clinton’s star. A former Clinton adviser, Maloney calls himself a “Bill Clinton Democrat” every chance he gets. He only mentions the current administration when distancing himself from it, touting his "independent" and "centrist" views.
David Wasserman, House editor of the Cook Political Report, gives Maloney a slight edge at the moment. The district has been a “ping pong ball” though, flipping three times since 2006, he notes.
Hayworth, 54, was elected in 2010 to the 19th Congressional District as part of the GOP wave, defeating Democratic incumbent John Hall. New York state actually sent the most new Republicans to Congress that year.
The redrawn map after the census gave the new 18th Congressional District about three-quarters of the old 19th district. Maloney, 48, defeated Hayworth in 2012 in the new district.
On a national scale, Maloney’s name is most recently associated with his wedding, which generated headlines this summer for its drone video footage. Currently the FAA bans commercial drone use, and Maloney sits on the subcommittee that oversees the FAA.
Nancy Pelosi was at his wedding, a fact that Nan Hayworth mentioned at their first debate as she reminded voters of the “Pelosi-Obama-Maloney agenda” they’d face if he was reelected.