Davis, #NY26, and Who’s the Real Tea Partier

20 May

For some reason – perhaps just to annoy Jane Corwin – Jack Davis’ campaign yesterday released the results of a poll showing Davis in second place and Corwin in third.  From Celeste Katz at the Daily News’ Daily Politics:

The Jack Davis campaign late last night said a poll it had commissioned showed Democrat Kathy Hochul in first place in the NY-26 race at 44%, followed by Davis at 27% and Republican Jane Corwin at 17%, with 12% of voters undecided. According to the Davis campaign’s email, which I received at 11:42 p.m., the poll “surveyed 4,602 ‘frequent’ voters most likely to cast a ballot in New York’s 26th District special election” and was conducted Wednesday and Thursday.

I asked several times who conducted the poll and, later, to see the crosstabs, but have not received an answer as I blog this.

“It’s clear that if conservatives, Republicans and Tea Party patriots want to keep Kathy Hochul, a Nancy Pelosi Democrat, from representing this district, they must vote for Jack Davis,” said Davis campaign manager Curtis Ellis in a statement accompanying the poll numbers.

(For the record, a Rochester-area poll of 650 people shows Corwin way out in front. The problem is that only 35% of those polled are registered voters. Fail.)

And I thought about it yesterday – how the tea party schism in western New York, which had its roots in the 2010 Republican primaries for state senate and congress – especially NY-27, NY-28 (the Lenny Roberto / Jill Rowland fiascos), and SD-59 (DiPietro vs. Domagalski vs. Gallivan), has blown up into a full-blown war between the people associated with the Corwin campaign (Palinists Thompson, Roberto) and people associated with the Davis campaign (Ostrowski, DiPietro).

Remember this ad from 2008?


Well, that’s a shorthand version of the race that Kathy Hochul is running. While Corwin dodges cameras asking her questions about her staff’s poor tracking choices and Davis avoids debating while talking trade, Hochul is quietly consolidating her support in the Buffalo media market, and making sure she grows her name recognition and reputation in the Rochester media market.

I have no idea whether that Davis poll is in any way accurate, but if Saturday’s Siena poll shows Hochul widening her lead against Corwin, all hell will break loose over the next few days. The Republicans never expected that their tried and true strategy of keeping their NY-26 Congressional candidate as far away from media scrutiny as possible might backfire.

I learned yesterday that Corwin might not be as empty a vessel as I had thought, and that she has some very thoughtful positions on some relatively obscure issues, but the people running her campaign don’t let you see that, preferring instead to tightly controlled media appearances, press conferences, photo ops, and official debates.

One of the highlights of any NY-26 race is the candidates’ forum hosted at Clarence Town Hall by the League of Women Voters. The 2006 forum stands out as a particularly well-attended and raucus battle between Reynolds and Davis partisans in the audience.


The League was unable to schedule such a forum this year because the Corwin campaign claimed never to be available on any of the proposed dates. The Hochul campaign, by contrast, told the League to schedule it, and Kathy would be there.  And I think candidates for congress – who are going to directly be representing a particular set of constituents – should make appearances at these sorts of civic fora so that these prospective constituents can get a sense of who these people are and what they stand for.

Turning back to the tea party schism, a poll commissioned by the New York Times to see who, exactly, makes up that allegedly grassroots right-wing anti-Obama movement shows this:

The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.

They hold more conservative views on a range of issues than Republicans generally. They are also more likely to describe themselves as “very conservative” and President Obama as “very liberal.”

And while most Republicans say they are “dissatisfied” with Washington, Tea Party supporters are more likely to classify themselves as “angry.”

That pretty much describes Jack Davis to a T. And beyond that, Davis is a self-made man who holds extreme positions on trade and immigration, and he is the true grassroots candidate (albeit moneyed), who had to petition his way onto the ballot without the support of either major party. If you’re talking about the tea party as being some sort of movement made up of people fed up with politics as usual, is that better embodied by the extremely wealthy Republican Assemblywoman who was hand-selected by the party chairs to run as a Republican in NY-26 because she was right out of WNY Republican central casting and could self-fund? Or is it better embodied by the angry, older millionaire who doesn’t care what you think of him, has given both parties the middle finger?

Corwin’s “tea party” credentials are weak. Yes, she’s garnered the support of the Palinists in town, but that’s because they’re just Republicans who want to not participate in the traditional Republican party committee structure. The non-Republican tea partiers are backing Davis. So are many inveterate movement conservatives like David Bellavia. His outspoken, unpolished outsiderishness is what makes Davis’ tea party credentials more credible. He fits the tea party demo. He ran as a Democrat, yes. But only out of cynicism and convenience, to guarantee a ballot slot and to exact his revenge over being snubbed by Dick Cheney.

Do I support Davis? Absolutely not. After his almost inexcusable 2006 implosion, and his treatment of Jon Powers in 2008, I had hoped never to hear from him again.

But as the debate in NY-26 turns on “who’s the real tea partier”, there can’t be any doubt that it’s Davis, not Corwin, who fits that bill.

42 Responses to “Davis, #NY26, and Who’s the Real Tea Partier”

  1. Ward at 7:43 am #

    Funny–nobody here is talking about the Siena poll released yesterday, which shows Corwin leading by the same margin (36-31-23) as their April 29 poll.

  2. Rob at 8:06 am #

    Nice succinct pwnage.

    I continue to be fascinated by the larger story of how Republicans fired up the tea-baggers to go scream at their bete noire Obama and now find themselves the target. If Hochul pulls this off that’ll be at least two House seats the Repugs lost entirely because the tea-baggers refuse to do as they’re told by the Repug elite.

  3. Historical Pessimist at 8:14 am #

    I’m taking Davis’ numbers with a heft grain of salt for now.

    Two things about the Nick Langworthy-patented campaign template of locking candidates away and speaking only through hacks: 1) as you’ve noted, it doesn’t really hold up in a race that turns out to be competitive. 2) I think it’s an especially bad plan when the candidate is female, as inaccessibility creates the impression of remoteness, then aloofness, then bitchiness in pretty quick succession.

  4. Fat Tony at 8:45 am #

    BP, isn’t it interesting that you and I were having this similar discussion about polls when Dave DiPietro put out a statement about having a poll showing him in the lead and then refused to release it. Davis does the same thing…won’t produce crosstabs, wont’ identify the polling company, etc. His “poll” is not scientific but rather a voter ID of some subset of voters that he is trying to drag to the polls. They are useful for GOTV but completely unreliable as far predictors of outcome.

    I’m tired of these fake numbers which I believe really do influence campaigns by influencing media coverage that loves the horse race expect of elections more than covering any issue. Jack Davis has again broke the law just like DiPietro by not fully producing the results. Says a lot about the type of Representative he’d be. I’m voting for Corwin but for those that don’t like her, please vote for Hochul. We all have an obligation to keep law-breaking kooks on the fringes where they belong.

  5. Rob at 8:49 am #

    Davis’ poll was probably of the freakazoids in Coniglio’s Google group.

  6. DJ at 8:53 am #

    Wait…. you mean nobody is talking about a poll that never happened? Good job, Ward.

  7. This Guy at 8:55 am #

    The RBJ poll is not even a real poll. It was a poll of its readers, only 35% of which were registered in the district. It is only a scientific representation of readers of RBJ who live in the 26th.

  8. Greg at 9:01 am #

    genuine lol @ Ward


  9. Greg at 9:04 am #

    I’m voting for Corwin but for those that don’t like her, please vote for Hochul.

    How could we like or dislike her? To Alan’s point, I don’t know a goddamn thing about her!

  10. Bbill at 9:11 am #

    For Ward

  11. Rob at 9:13 am #

    I don’t remember DiPietro claiming he had a poll showing him in the lead, but I remember someone claimed that a poll showed DiPietro in “deep third” and Jim O went ballistic, here. DiPietro ended up with 9% I believe.

  12. Chris Charvella at 9:46 am #

    Ward made my weekend.

  13. Rob at 10:01 am #

    Yeah to use Ward’s own favorite word, his post #1 was risible.

  14. Jim Ostrowski at 10:08 am #

    DiPietro got 11% with very little money. My recollection is this was about the primary where a fake GOP poll was spread around showing Dave with 9. He got 23 I think even after Carl endorsed Domagalski.

  15. Rob at 10:29 am #

    10% in a race where the other 2 candidates got 55% and 28% can fairly be described as “deep third”, so Pericles’ “bullshit” was in fact correct.

  16. Mike In WNY at 11:48 am #

    Rob, I guess it’s ok with you that the two factions of the ruling party maintain control through a skewed election process while we wallow in governmental fail. Heaven forbid that an independent candidate would want to improve our lives.

  17. Rob at 11:54 am #

    Still reverse-proselytizing I see.

  18. Rob at 1:06 pm #

    Btw – does Jack Davis have a website? Any social media presence?

  19. Ward at 1:57 pm #

    5/20/2011 1:57:01 PM
    Siena Poll: CD26: Corwin in the Lead
    Siena College 26th Congressional District Poll:
    Corwin Leads Hochul & Davis in Tight Special Election
    Federal Budget Deficit & Jobs Are Voters’ Two Biggest Issues
    Voters: Repeal Health Care; Don’t Cut Social Security or Medicare
    Loudonville, NY. In the special election for the 26th Congressional District seat, Republican Jane Corwin currently has a small lead, with the support of 36 percent of voters. Democrat Kathy Hochul is supported by 31 percent, and independent Jack Davis, running on the Tea Party line, has the support of 23 percent of voters, according to a Siena (College) Research Institute poll of likely 26th CD voters released today.

    • Alan Bedenko at 2:02 pm #

      Siena didn’t release a poll in NY-26; not today, not yesterday. The last one was released on the 29th of April. The next one comes out Saturday (tomorrow) at 10am.

      April 29, 2011
      Corwin Leads Hochul & Davis in Tight Special Election
      Federal Budget Deficit & Jobs Are Voters’ Two Biggest Issues
      Voters: Repeal Health Care; Don’t Cut Social Security or Medicare

  20. Rob at 2:30 pm #

    *points and laughs at Ward*

  21. Eric Saldanha at 2:32 pm #

    Jesus, Ward….what’s that line about best plan of action when one is already in a deep hole?

    You’re mistakenly reading Siena’s press release about the April 29th poll as being released yesterday (or today) because the page has today’s current date and time at the top. If you click on Full Release at the bottom, you’ll clearly see the headline is from the April 29th article, not a more recent poll.

    Either post a link the next time you spread your next line of bullshit or get off the Intertubes so you can yell at some clouds.

  22. Rob at 2:37 pm #

    (Easy) prediction: If the new poll released tomorrow shows Corwin in the lead, even if by a smaller margin than at 4/29/11, Ward will post it along with some elaborate low-grade snark as evidence that he wasn’t really a complete tool today.

  23. Rob at 2:40 pm #

    5/20/2011 1:57:01 PM
    Japanese Bomb Pearl Harbor

    Today is a day that will live infamy!

  24. Rob at 2:45 pm #

    5/20/2011 1:57:01 PM
    Obama Elected Nation’s 44th President

  25. Eric Saldanha at 2:58 pm #

    @ Rob – the Ward Breaking News Update…I love it!

    5/20/2011 1:57:01 PM Archduke Franz Ferdinand Assassinated in Sarjevo, May Precipitate War

    5/20/2011 1:57:01 PM
    Gutenburg Innovates Mechanical Movable Type Printing

    5/20/2011 1:57:01 PM
    Ogg Make Fire

  26. DJ at 3:17 pm #

    Thanks for the laughs Rob & Eric. Great stuff!

  27. Greg at 3:41 pm #

    Ward, let me help you out: “I guess I was wrong.” Easy.

  28. Bbill at 4:05 pm #


  29. Thomas at 4:30 pm #

    @Greg Corwin supporters are just like her…they can’t admit to being wrong no matter how inane the error.

  30. Pericles at 5:36 pm #

    First to clarify. I recognized that DiPietro was in the running in the primary. I never believed that he was at 9%. In fact I thought DiPietro was going to finish in second in that primary, based on the polls and the momentum in them I was privy to, from a variety of sources.

    The 9% poll was a lie fabricated by Chris Grant and Nick Unworthy, who made up numbers to convince Paladino to side with Domagalski. Not only did those two incompetents defraud Paladino in order to screw Gary Berntsen, they lied to him to screw DiPietro. The cumulative dishonor and deceit by those two is appalling and is beyond the scope of this comment.

    I was dead on when I called DePietro in deep third in the general election.

    Now, onto the matter at hand. I think your poll isn’t scientific, and thats why you won’t release the crosstabs. Thats fine, its a good piece of PR. However, by accident, I don’t think it is that far off from what Siena will release tomorrow. Siena is holding the results close to their chest, but rumors are that Corwin isn’t doing well at all, and Hochul is over 40%. Obviously Relich got a similar memo, and thats why he threw Nick Unworthy under the bus this morning. Also, this is why Cuomo and Duffy are coming entering the fray. They have been so cautious because they want desperately to avoid any loss/show of weakness before the legislative session ends. That they are both getting involved shows that they have polling results that show Hochul with a commanding lead i.e. more that 10%.

    Jim O. is right however, that the only way to stop Hochul from winning is for Jane to drop out and endorse Jack Davis. Jack Davis’ voters aren’t going anywhere.

  31. Rob at 6:16 pm #

    Thank you, Pericles. i was referring to the general election, of course, as you were in the PCD post I linked. And I hope you’re right about the new Siena poll – the real one, that is, not the one in Ward’s head.

  32. TDS at 7:03 pm #

    [(For the record, a Rochester-area poll of 650 people shows Corwin way out in front. The problem is that only 35% of those polled are registered voters. Fail.)]

    Alan, the RBJ poll took that into account in the crosstabs. Even among the 217 registered voters, the results were pretty much the same.

  33. Fran at 7:42 pm #

    So basically, if what has been said here is true….. Jim Ostrowski, the election lawyer, violates election law relating to the release of “polls” twice….hmmmm….wonder what the state bar thinks of election lawyers that willfully break election laws?

  34. Jim Ostrowski at 7:49 pm #

    Pericles: I was in DiPietro’s garage when Paladino showed Dave the fake poll. It had Dave at 9%. I told Carl it was a fake poll but he had already cut a robocall and sent out mailings. You do know whereof you speak even though I have no idea who you are.

  35. Jackson Smiles at 11:31 pm #

    Ward is a tool, so is Davis and all those who run Corwin’s campaign. Corwin probably could’ve ran away with this, but she listened to the old school political hacks who say “attack attack attack” and don’t realize most reasonable people are just sick of this. It works if you throw enough money at it and ruin someone elses life, but all that proves is you’re a piece of sh*t who can out spend someone.

  36. Jackson Smiles at 11:35 pm #

    And Kryzan’s a stupid old hag who helped Davis ruin the Dem’s primary and a shot to take down Lee, which could’ve avoided this entire mess in the first place. Len Lenihan was too much of a wimp to flex any political muscle. His goal is to lay under the radar and just keep in his spot until he dies of old age. With Lennie boy at the helm the Dems will never be a big power in Erie County, or as big as they could be. If Hochul does win this, it will be because Corwin and Davis ruined each other – nothing to do with Len’s leadership although he’ll try and take full credit.

  37. Andy at 6:23 am #

    Fran – 

    Far be it for me (very far, like opposite ends of the universe far) for me to defend Jim O., but NYS law governing the release of polling information does not apply in this federal race. This requirement (a stupid law IMO whose spirit is violated on a daily basis by political operatives smart enough to spell ‘cat’) applies only to state and local campaigns. 

  38. Rob at 10:05 am #

    5-21-11 10:05 a.m. (Really)
    Hochul leads Corwin 42% – 38% among likely voters.

  39. Fran at 12:17 pm #

    Andy: Excellent point. So there is just the one violation (from the 59th race) then. I guess the real point here is that Jim O likes to “rage against the machine” for their use of dirty tricks but uses dirty tricks himself for, what was is that Pericles said, good PR?

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