While the Democrats hope that demogoging Medicare will change the momentum of national politics, Republicans have awakened to the possibility that there is more at stake in the suburban Buffalo district than filling the seat of the resigned Rep. Christopher Lee. On Monday, according to Politico, the Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling released a new poll showing Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul taking a a 35 percent to 31 percent lead over Republican Jane Corwin. That reverses the margin that Corwin led by in the only previously released poll in late April.
The Democrats are crowing about their ability to hang Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform plan around Corwin’s neck and those of every other Republican in the future. The foresee victory in this district as proof that the GOP has overreached with its proposals to cut the deficit. But the Republicans’ real problem in NY26 may not be the public’s willingness to be frightened by accusations that Ryan is being mean to seniors. The swing in NY26 is not so much the Democrat’s gains but the fact that Tea Party candidate Jack Davis is also on the ballot. With Davis polling at better than 20 percent, a district with a huge Republican registration advantage has not only been put in play but in jeopardy of falling to the Democrats.
But the Republicans are not taking this lying down. Former Bush administration political guru Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group is entering the fray in the special district in a big way. The conservative 527 group is making a huge television buy to support Corwin. The New York Times says that Crossroads will buy $350 thousand worth of advertising in the Buffalo media market. Politico pegs the number at $650 thousand.
What will be interesting is whether Crossroad’s main target is the Democrat Hochul or Tea Partier Davis. When House Speaker John Boehner flew into Buffalo yesterday to campaign for Corwin he made a point of saying that he was there to support the “only conservative” in the race, an allusion to the fact that Davis was a Democrat until recently switching parties.
Three-party race or not, Democrats will use a win in NY26 in order to jump-start a national comeback after their debacle in last November’s midterm elections. In the two weeks until the May 24 special election, we’ll have a chance to see whether American Crossroads can ride to the rescue of the Republicans.