Two recent polls show Democrat Andrew Cuomo leading Republican Carl Paladino by less than 10 points. But while several other recent polls in the race for New York's governor show a wider spread (the RealClearPolitics average is 16.6 percent, with Cuomo taking the lead in every single one), what was thought of as a run-away election for Cuomo just might be a little bit tighter than practically everyone thought.
To be sure, there are several ways one could imagine a Republican victory in this race. The last two Democratic governors of New York, David Paterson and Eliot Spitzer, are perhaps best known by New Yorkers for their failures (particularly of the personal variety) than any sort of political accomplishments.
But the best thing Paladino has going for him is that it's an anti-incumbent, anti-establishment year. And there is no question that Cuomo, who is not an incumbent per se, is the establishment candidate. Cuomo's father, Mario, was the governor of New York. And Andrew Cuomo is New York's attorney general and was a cabinet member in Bill Clinton's administration. He is a career politician.
Yet, New York is still a very blue state, and that, Ben Smith argues, is what Cuomo is basing his campaign on. Smith's proof? "There are no places in New York today for tea party politics," Cuomo reportedly said today.
This idea -- that Cuomo is running on an anti-Tea Party platform -- was on display again today when Josh Vlasto, Cuomo's spokesman, talked with CBS: “The spotlight is now on the choice between the tea party extremism of Carl Paladino or Andrew Cuomo's record of fighting corruption, standing up for a woman's right to choose, and his detailed plans to create jobs for New Yorkers.”
This seems like a boneheaded move. Why simply alienate part of your electorate?
According to a Politico/GWU poll, just released today, 43 percent of likely voters said that they have a favorable impression of the Tea Party. That, though it's surely a smaller number in New York, is a large segment of the population to simply give up on.