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« McConnell Leads, But Under 50 | Blog Home Page | Strategy Memo: Two Wounded Parties »

Lookin' Kuhl In NY

While upstate New York Republicans are struggling in several districts, at least one incumbent could be safe come November, a poll conducted in late January shows. Facing the same opponent who came within 6,000 votes of pulling a stunning upset in 2006, Republican Rep. Randy Kuhl looks to be in much better position this year.

The survey, taken 1/27-28 of 300 likely voters, was conducted by the GOP firm McLaughlin & Associates for Kuhl's campaign. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 5.7%. Kuhl and Eric Massa, a former aide to General Wesley Clark, were tested. The sample was 46% Republican, 34% Democratic and 20% independent or other, smaller parties.

General Election Matchup
Kuhl 46
Massa 26

Kuhl's favorable rating is probably not where he wants it to be -- 47% said they had a favorable impression of him, while 33% viewed him unfavorably. But Massa's numbers are anemic, with just 20% saying they view him favorably compared with 17% who see him unfavorably. Aiding Kuhl in November, John McCain led Hillary Clinton in trial heats in the district by 11 points; President Bush won the seat in 2004 by 14 points and in 2000 by 10.

Kuhl faces a fundraising gap, though, having raised $627,000 to Massa's $898,000 by the end of March. Massa had $565,000 left over, while Kuhl held just $365,000 in reserve. Massa has won attention lately for helping spearhead a group of Democratic challengers who are promising to make Iraq a central part of their campaign.

Empire State Republicans outside New York City lost three Congressional seats in 2006, when Reps. Sue Kelly and John Sweeney lost to Democrats John Hall and Kirsten Gillibrand, respectively, and when Democrat Mike Arcuri took over for retiring Republican Sherwood Boehlert. This year, Republican Reps. Jim Walsh and Tom Reynolds are retiring after close calls in 2006, giving Democrats two more opportunities to take over seats. But as upstate Republicans reel from retirements, forced and otherwise, Kuhl's big early lead could prove at least one point of optimism heading into November.