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Last poll out; now up to voters on Tuesday

ALBANY -– The final Siena College poll out this morning shows Andrew Cuomo maintaining his strong lead over Carl P. Paladino, but races for attorney general and comptroller are now too close to call.

While Cuomo is leading Paladino by 25 points in the race’s final poll by Siena, Republican Harry Wilson has erased a 17-point deficit to now be tied at 44 percent apiece with Democrat Tom DiNapoli in the comptroller’s race.

The contest for state attorney general has also now become tied, with Republican Dan Donovan closing a seven-point gap he had in his race with Democrat Eric Schneiderman; they are both now tied at 44 percent, Siena says.

In the U.S. Senate contests, Democrat Charles Schumer has a 32 point lead over Republican Jay Townsend while Kirsten Gillibrand is leading Republican Joseph DioGuardi by 20 points.


For those of you wanting to mine further into the numbers, go to the crosstabs for the poll at Siena College’s site.

--Tom Precious

Another day, another poll showing Democratic leads in three bids

ALBANY -- The latest Marist College poll is out on three statewide races, showing considerable leads, once again, for the Democrats.

Here is the release this afternoon from Marist:


Where do the races for governor and U.S. Senate in New York stand the weekend before Election Day?  Find out in this new Marist Poll.  The data for this poll was collected from Tuesday, October 26, 2010 through Thursday, October 28, 2010 with five days left until Election Day.

According to this Marist Poll, among likely voters including early voters and those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate:

  - New York Governor: Solid Democrat
     - Andrew Cuomo (D): 56%; Carl Paladino (R): 37%; Other: 3%; Undecided: 4%

  - New York U.S. Senate: Solid Democrat
     - Chuck Schumer (D): 60%; Jay Townsend (R): 36%; Other: 1%; Undecided: 3%

  - New York U.S. Senate [Special Election]: Solid Democrat
     - Kirsten Gillibrand (D): 55%; Joe DioGuardi (R): 40%; Other: 1%; Undecided: 4%

“If there ever was a year for the GOP to punch through in New York, this was it.  But, in these three contests that hasn’t happened,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “There may be a political tidal wave nationally, yet in New York, the water still has a tint of Democratic blue.”

For complete survey findings and methodology, go to The Marist Poll’s website,  

 -- Tom Precious

Cheektowaga: Bellwether town?

Andrew M. Cuomo addresses supporters Friday in Creekside Banquet Facility in Cheektowaga. Photo by Mark Mulville / Buffalo News

It was significant that Democrat Andrew M. Cuomo visited the first-ring suburb of Cheektowaga on Friday, because the town sports a remarkable knack for pointing the way in gubernatorial elections.

Since 1942, records show it has voted for the winner or just barely missed in every election. Only once did Cheektowaga miss badly; in 1970, when it picked Democrat Arthur J. Goldberg and all of New York favored Republican Nelson A. Rockefeller.

And in 1982, it missed when it narrowly voted for Republican Lewis E. Lehrman and the state went with Democrat Mario M. Cuomo, the current Democratic candidate's father. (The town voted with the rest of the state for Mario Cuomo in 1986 and 1990, but turned against him in 1994 when it helped elect Republican George E. Pataki.)

In 2010, however, Cheektowaga appears to be part of the support that gives Paladino a 19-point lead in Erie County, according to last week's Goldhaber Research Associates poll.

Even Cheektowaga's top Democrat, town Chairman Frank C. Max Jr., acknowledges that the bellwether town will most likely vote for Paladino this year. He called Cheektowagans "incensed" over the ways of Albany, pointing out that veteran State Sen. William T. Stachowski "got killed" in the Democratic primary in what normally proved his most loyal base.

"The Democrats here are blue dog," he said, referring to a more conservative Democrat. "You can't get away with that liberal nonsense here."

Max said he had to work overtime to persuade the Cuomo campaign to come into Cheektowaga, especially since most observers believe the Democratic stronghold is seriously considering Republican Paladino.

"I would say Paladino would win [here]," he said, "but that it's tightening up.

"We can't turn around anger," Max added. "All we can really say is: 'Do you really want to vote for this guy?'"

--Robert J. McCarthy

On Election Night, stay with

No news organization in upstate New York will have more journalists covering Election Night than The Buffalo News, and is your one-stop source for complete coverage that includes:

--Live results from all of the biggest races.

--Chat beginning at 7 p.m. hosted by News Staff Reporter Patrick Lakamp and featuring the News staffers who’ve been covering the top races. 

--Constant updates and full stories from Buffalo News reporters covering all the major candidates.

--Coverage from Cuomo headquarters in New York City provided by Tom Precious of the News Albany Bureau.

--Team coverage from Paladino headquarters in Buffalo led by News Staff Reporter Phil Fairbanks.

--Updates on the fight for control of Congress from Jerry Zremski in The News’ Washington Bureau.

--Video of speeches from the night’s winners and losers.

--Election Day photos from News staff photographers.

--Analysis from News Political Reporter Robert J. McCarthy.

--Interactive maps showing county-by-county results in the governor's race and tracking the balance of power in Congress.

Your Election Day forecast center

ALBANY – OK, weather-watchers. Looking for a clue to the impact weather might have on the all-important turnout equations for Tuesday’s elections?

Don’t expect weather to play a major role, if the Weather Channel is correct with its forecast for communities across New York on Tuesday.

To affect turnout, Republicans and Democrats have morphed into get-out-the-vote modes for Tuesday, with phone banks, printed material drop-off operations, advertising and candidate rallies all being pushed into high gear this week.

Theories abound about turnout: Democrats are not as motivated to vote, or at least not nearly at the levels of two years ago during the presidential campaign and that conservatives -- led by "tea party" backers -- are just itching at the chance to vote. Some say a number of hotly contested congressional campaigns will be the chief draw in some areas while others think a number of State Senate contests will help produce higher turnout in some areas of the state than others.

But in a Northeastern state such as New York, where weather can vary greatly in early November across the state, Tuesday looks remarkably boring weatherwise. There are no great snowstorms or heavy rain with lots of wind being forecast. And that means weather cannot be blamed by losing candidates for affecting turnout –- if the forecast for five days away turns out to be correct.

So, starting in, of course, Buffalo: mostly cloudy and a high of 47 degrees, according to the Weather Channel.

Southern Tier cities from Jamestown to Binghamton: almost the same forecast as Buffalo. So, too, the forecasts for Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown and Plattsburgh, where mostly cloudy or mostly sunny skies are expected with temperatures in the mid- to upper- 40s.

In the Albany area, more of the same: 51 degrees and mostly cloudy. Head down the Hudson Valley and into Westchester County and temperatures rise just a bit with, again, mostly cloudy skies. By the time you get to Brooklyn, the same for the skies but with milder temperatures with a high of 56 degrees. And out on Long Island, Hempstead in Nassau County and Riverhead in Suffolk County come in the same: mostly cloudy and 55 degrees.

-- Tom Precious

Working Families Party asks voters to rebuff Stach

We like him, but please don't vote for him.

That seems to be the message coming from the state Working Families Party.

In June, State Sen. William T. Stachowski, D-Lake View, won the party's backing in his bid to win re-election to his Southtowns Senate seat.

Now, Working Families Party officials are asking party members in the 58th State Senate district race to vote for Timothy M. Kennedy, who beat Stachowski in the September Democratic primary.

Top Working Families officials this month sent a letter to registered party voters urging them to support Kennedy, an Erie County legislator from South Buffalo, over Stachowski because they want to make sure the Democrats hold onto the Stachowski seat. (YNN's State of Politics blog initially reported on the letter and The Buffalo News later obtained its own copy from the Working Families Party.)

Kennedy is facing a tough challenge from endorsed Republican candidate Jack F. Quinn III, the Assembly member from Hamburg, in a closely watched race that will be settled on Tuesday. The winner in this district could help determine which party holds power in the State Senate come January.

The Working Families Party officials conceded that Democrats have been "a pretty big disappointment" in their 21 months or so in control of the Senate. But they said the Republicans would be even worse and Kennedy is better than Quinn on the key issues that the party and its members care about.

The officials also said a vote for Stachowski is a wasted vote because he no longer is campaigning for the seat. Stachowski remains on the ballot on the Working Families and Independence party lines, while Kennedy has the Democratic and Conservative lines and Quinn has the GOP and Taxpayer lines.

Stachowski couldn't be reached to comment Thursday afternoon. He has not publicly endorsed Kennedy and he told The News earlier this month that he hasn't entirely given up campaigning.

--- Stephen T. Watson 


Business group makes final push for a GOP-led Senate

NEW YORK -- Add the upstate business community going negative in the final days of the campaign season. Unshackle Upstate, a consortium of business interests across upstate, has launched a final, targeted media campaign in the last stretch to try to help Republicans take back control of the state Senate.

The group is targeting three key races in seats now held by Democrats -– districts in the North Country and Syracuse areas, as well as the Erie County seat now held by retiring Sen. William Stachowski.

Tapping into Stachowski’s unpopularity that led to his September Democratic primary loss, Unshackle Upstate is hitting mailboxes today with literature drops pushing Republican Jack Quinn over Democrat Tim Kennedy in the race to replace the Lake View Democrat.

Using unflattering, side-by-side photos of Kennedy and Stachowski on the front of the mailing, a bold line proclaims: "Tim Kennedy will kills jobs just like Senator Stachowski did. We can’t afford that." On the back, the group cites its backing for Quinn.

Unshackle Upstate Anti-Kennedy Mailer

The group is also placing ads in 17 weekly newspapers in the districts of the three contested Senate races. "On November 2, we have an opportunity to send a vital message to Albany," the ads all say in pushing the three different Republican candidates.

Unshackle Upstate Ad for Quinn

Unshackle Upstate, which says Albany has ignored its most important pleadings to try to help restore the upstate economy, insists GOP control of the Senate will help promote an agenda of controlling state spending and taxes and more business-friendly laws.

The mailings will reach 85,000 homes in the three Senate districts, the group said.

The battle for the Senate has become the most closely watched campaign in Albany, as Democrats and Republicans have unleashed vault-loads full of money in recent weeks in nearly a dozen contests that are said to be in play –- or near-play.

-- Tom Precious

Green Party's Hawkins makes campaign stop in Buffalo

DOWNTOWN BUFFALO -- Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins tried to paint himself as alternative to Democrat Andrew Cuomo during a campaign stop inside City Hall this morning.

12:40 p.m.: Hawkins was asked what he thought of GOP candidate and Buffalo developer Carl Paladino. Here's what he said:

12:18 p.m.: Here's some recent media coverage of Hawkins in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the Auburn Citizen and the Politics on the Hudson blog.

11:53 a.m.: Hawkins said he supports increasing taxes on the rich in order to raise funds to pay for state services.

Hawkins said he believes that the "trickle down" economic theory -- which he says has seen tax breaks for the rich over the past 30 years -- hasn't worked.

He said he also favors the state Legislature granting more "home rule" powers to cities which would allow those interested in implementing income or commuter taxes to do so.

He also said he does not support a property tax cap.

Here's more of what Hawkins said when asked about the impact of his proposed tax policies:

11:24 a.m.: Hawkins said that while "it looks like Cuomo's going to win," progressives and environmentalists have another choice. 

Here's an audio clip from his press conference:

Check back for more audio and video (sorry folks, no video coming) from Hawkins' stop.

--Aaron Besecker

Study shows money power of majorities in Legislature

NEW YORK -- It costs a lot of money -- other people's money, that is -- to stay in the majority in the New York Legislature, a new review out this morning shows.

The New York Public Interest Research Group looked at campaign spending by the Democrats and Republicans in the Assembly and Senate and found, no great surprise, that those in power spend more than those out of power. But the money flow, thanks to financial help from Albany's bulging special interest communities, are revealing, nonetheless.

The Senate Republicans, once the big spenders when they were in control of the Senate, saw things flip around the past two years under Democratic control: Senate Democrats unleashed $31 million to try to stay in power to the $23.5 million by the GOP senators.

Over in the Assembly, where the GOP is deep in the minority, Assembly Democrats spent nearly $17 million the past two years while the GOP Assembly members' campaign tabs hit $5.4 million.

--Tom Precious

NYPIRG- Legislative Spending in the 2010 Elections

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |