By Sam Foster
(See update below for Rothenberg analysis)
Last Thursday, Kathy Hochul took a defining stance on her vision of deficit policy. In essence, she alluded that she was in favor of Obama’s budget strategy:
"I for one think that everything should be on the table: Entitlements, defense spending, but also revenues."
Obama used much similar words when rolling out his budget vision:
So here’s the truth. Around two-thirds of our budget -- two-thirds -- is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security. Two-thirds. Programs like unemployment insurance, student loans, veterans’ benefits, and tax credits for working families take up another 20 percent. What’s left, after interest on the debt, is just 12 percent for everything else. That’s 12 percent for all of our national priorities -- education, clean energy, medical research, transportation, our national parks, food safety, keeping our air and water clean -- you name it -- all of that accounts for 12 percent of our budget.
Now, up till now, the debate here in Washington, the cuts proposed by a lot of folks in Washington, have focused exclusively on that 12 percent. But cuts to that 12 percent alone won’t solve the problem. So any serious plan to tackle our deficit will require us to put everything on the table, and take on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget.
Kathy Hochul’s statement during the debate sounds like a small, passing comment, but in actuality, it holds great significance.
For months the Jane Corwin campaign has been trying to force Kathy Hochul to take a position on the budget deficit. But, Kathy Hochul has been keeping her position on the budget a guarded secret and the liberal media is more than happy to give her a pass.
The reason has to do with campaigning. The Siena Poll released two very interesting, but contradictory poll findings. The media has affixed themselves, like a parasite, to one of them; 59-38 percent oppose cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Time and time again the media has invoked this finding as the reason NY-26 is a referendum on Paul Ryan. It’s a poor example since the question includes social security which Paul Ryan’s plan does not touch. Regardless, there looks like there is room for Hochul to demagogue Ryan’s budget.
But, the key for Hochul is to avoid specifics, because when NY-26 voters had to choose between Paul Ryan and Obama’s budget proposals, Ryan’s budget received a 53-36 percent favorability.
So while attacking Corwin’s position on Paul Ryan’s budget, Kathy Hochul, in her silence on the issue, feigns a position that entitlements would be safe if she were in congress. Her gaffe at the debate last week clearly shows that she is not only willing to gut Medicare, but Social Security as well.
This would be important information for voters, wouldn’t you say? Despite Hochul’s apparent entitlement slashing stand and the lack of sunlight on Kathy Hochul’s actual budgetary beliefs, the media has been happy to give her a pass on the flip-flop. Just like the media maintained the secret appearance of Nancy Pelosi at one of Hochul’s fundraisers and blamed Jane Corwin for Jack Davis threatening and assaulting a man.
Jane Corwin is featuring a new ad calling out Kathy Hochul’s position. In theory, this should force the media and Kathy Hochul to have to clarify; but I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’s too damaging.
Rothenberg Political Report moves NY-26 to toss up/lean democrat category:
Both parties agree that the race remains close – “within the margin of error” is the phrase most often used – and Republican Jane Corwin certainly has a chance to energize and turnout GOP voters in this Republican-leaning district. But Democrats seem more enthusiastic right now
After a series of focused attacks in the paid and earned media, Republicans apparently have succeeded in bringing down self-proclaimed Tea Party candidate Jack Davis’s numbers to a place where the race should be winnable for Corwin
But those one-time Davis voters are not going immediately to Corwin, raising new doubts about the Republican’s ability to grow her support in the final week. More importantly, Hochul appears to have solidified her image and even increased her share of the vote.
Unfortunately, the media analysis on NY-26 has been unbelievably bad and this post hints at some interesting developments, but we are left to wonder if we are getting a good picture.
Much of this analysis is pretty devoid of any knowledge of Upstate elections. For example, it is silly to think that Corwin does not have a very good chance of gaining ground in the next week. Upstaters are notoriously late to decide on candidates. Two weeks ago, Siena had the percent of undecideds at 5% Dem, 11% Rep and 9% Independents. One week later, undecideds had barely moved; 4% Dem, 9% Rep, 9% Independents. Just ask Dan Maffei, who lost his seat last November, how quickly a poll giving him a 12 point lead can swing (answer: last two weeks of the election).
If you were paying attention to my last paragraph you’ll also note that right-leaning voters are the majority of undecideds, where Kathy Hochul’s base support is already peaking. Undecideds could break for Hochul, but it would be a major outlier.
Finally, support leaving Jack Davis and some of it going to Hochul is not an indicator. In the last poll Jack Davis took 23% of the Republican vote and 19% of the Democrat vote. The fact that Democrats might be defecting Davis for Hochul is no indicator for Corwin.
What remains unclear is how low Jack Davis support can go. If he finds himself in the low single digits on Election Day, Jane Corwin has a reasonable chance of winning. Kathy Hochul has a ceiling on her potential vote count and it peaks in the low 40’s. If Davis can’t make a large enough wave against Corwin, the race will go to Corwin.
While I think Hochul’s momentum is overstated, Rothenberg is absolutely right; this is going to be a close election and I think that toss up status is pretty reasonable.