The recent Siena Research Institute poll puts Corwin at 36 percent, Hochul at 31 percent, and Davis at 23 percent.
“Davis is kind of anti-Washington, anti-major parties, so that does resonate with a lot of tea party people,” says James Campbell, political science chair at the University at Buffalo. “If Jack Davis were out of the race, I don’t think the Medicare issue would be making this close.”
Davis’s populist message – he opposes free trade – and regular-guy demeanor, despite his wealth, contrasts with his well-groomed and highly managed opponents, says Mr. Campbell.
As the competitiveness of the race has become clear, both national parties have jumped in with money and support. This week the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee committed $250,000 worth of TV ads in the race. The National Republican Congressional Committee and other groups pledged $900,000 for TV ads for Corwin. On Monday, House Speaker John Boehner appeared in the district on Corwin’s behalf.
The stakes are high for the GOP. A Corwin loss would be portrayed as a slam against the party’s proposals for dramatic deficit reduction, and could slow Republican momentum following the party’s big victory last November in congressional, state, and local races. True, NY-26 is just one congressional district, and the result will inevitably be over-interpreted. But the Republican Party has had a bad stretch with special House elections, losing six out of the last seven since 2008, and it wants to turn that trend around.