by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute that shows Republican Carl Paladino only six points behind anointed next governor Andrew Cuomo—
, when the entire political universe had already declared Paladino to be a joke, an angry buffoon with absolutely no chance to win. But the
doesn’t actually present the polling figures, which is the main subject of the article, until the
of the article, as though giving the numbers sooner would have been too crude. I’m going to have to look at the print version of the
today and see if that paragraph appears on the front page, or only on the inside page where the article is continued.
But Cuomo also showed a sense of humor which suggests he has some political life in him:
Andrew M. Cuomo’s painstakingly constructed veneer of political invincibility began to crack on Wednesday, as he and his advisers struggled with how to handle his combative opponent in the race for New York governor, Carl P. Paladino, whom a new poll showed with unexpected strength.
The Cuomo campaign tried to deflect attention from the poll, trumpeting an endorsement from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on the steps of City Hall. But while the announcement was intended to illustrate that Mr. Cuomo had broad support among Republican and Democratic leaders, it did little to rebut Mr. Paladino’s attack on Mr. Cuomo as the favored candidate of the political elite.
And Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, found himself spending much of the event trying to convince the public that he shared its anger at that very establishment.
“We’re all angry!” Mr. Cuomo told reporters, his earnestness tinged with exasperation. “O.K. What do you want to do? We can have an anger party, celebrate our anger. Or we can say let’s take that anger, let’s take the energy, let’s focus it and actually do something to correct the problem.”
In interviews, senior Democratic officials said they still believed that Mr. Cuomo would win, but several privately expressed concerns that he was not doing enough to galvanize his own base and suggested that he needed to confront Mr. Paladino directly in the coming days.
Others questioned whether the Cuomo campaign’s initial response to Mr. Paladino’s victory in the Republican primary—Democratic Party elders, Albany lawmakers and a prominent lobbyist have expressed doubts about Mr. Paladino’s fitness for office—had only played into Mr. Paladino’s assertion that Mr. Cuomo was too tied into the status quo to change it.
Mr. Cuomo, the attorney general, who remains the most popular elected official in New York, has to make the case himself, some suggested.
“We’ve been telling them, ‘Stand up and fight the guy—do something!’ ” said one Democratic official, who asked for anonymity because he did not want to anger Mr. Cuomo. “The more we all speak for Andrew, the less likely he is to be engaged. People want to see Andrew get up and say something.”
The poll that seized the attention of the political establishment on Wednesday had some limitations; indeed, other surveys due out this week are expected to show Mr. Cuomo with a much more comfortable margin.
Conducted by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, it showed Mr. Cuomo with 49 percent support and Mr. Paladino at 43 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. But unlike recent polls that have queried samples of registered voters, Quinnipiac surveyed those considered likely to vote in November, a type of survey that tends to favor Republican candidates.
Still, it provided a glimpse of voter attitudes that have driven Mr. Paladino’s rise: he was supported overwhelmingly by the roughly 18 percent of respondents who described themselves as part of the Tea Party movement, of whom slightly more than half were from outside New York City and its suburbs.
And whatever its weaknesses, the poll helped buttress the notion that Mr. Paladino was capitalizing on the publicity that followed his primary victory and putting his rival on the defensive.
On Wednesday, Mr. Paladino’s campaign manager, Michael Caputo, said that Mr. Paladino—who so far has relied on his own fortune to finance his candidacy—had canceled some campaign appearances to make time for fund-raising calls and meetings, thanks to a surge of interest from donors nationwide.
And, given the intense news media interest in Mr. Paladino, he plans to spend some time in the coming days meeting with policy advisers to hone his positions on the issues. But his basic approach—often off-the-cuff denunciations of Albany and all who inhabit it—will not change, Mr. Caputo said.
“To try to change Carl’s message would be political malpractice,” Mr. Caputo said. “His message is ringing with disaffected Democrats just as it is ringing with Republicans.”
Much of the focus on Wednesday was on Mr. Cuomo, whose campaign is wrestling with whether and how to engage publicly with an opponent willing to say almost anything.
Attacking Mr. Paladino could inadvertently prolong what might otherwise be a short-lived postprimary boomlet for Mr. Paladino, or resurrect Mr. Cuomo’s reputation for political hardball and brashness, a reputation he has worked for years to shed.
One thing is clear: any notion that Mr. Cuomo can ignore his opponent is gone.
On Wednesday, he began to draw more direct contrasts between himself and Mr. Paladino, suggesting that unlike his opponent, he had the political acumen to fix Albany and a record of success as attorney general.
“There’s a big step between ‘I think Albany should be changed’ and ‘I can actually do it,’ ” Mr. Cuomo said.
He also began to echo attacks by his allies on Mr. Paladino’s campaign donations and real estate contracts with state agencies.
“Who’s been part of changing Albany, versus who has been part of the pay-to-play system of Albany?” Mr. Cuomo said. “That’s a dialogue I’m excited to have.”
But rather than excited, Mr. Cuomo appeared somber for much of the news conference. He affirmed that he would not respond to Mr. Paladino’s more outrageous provocations, which have included suggestions that Mr. Cuomo believed he was entitled to the governorship and lacked the backbone to face criticism from Mr. Paladino.
Deluged with questions about voter anger, Mr. Cuomo finally cracked a smile when asked if he was worried about Mr. Paladino.
“No, I’m just angry,” he said playfully. “I have one emotion at a time, and my focus, my emotion today is angry, not worried. I guess you could be angry and worried at the same time, but I’m just angry.”
Mr. Cuomo still brings significant advantages to the race, including his multimillion-dollar war chest and a Republican Party still grappling with whether to embrace Mr. Paladino’s insurgency. The poll released on Wednesday did not gauge support for Rick A. Lazio, who although defeated by Mr. Paladino in the Republican primary remains in the race as the candidate of the Conservative Party.
Some of those close to Mr. Cuomo said he was fearful of squandering his hard-earned popularity with a stray sound bite like the one he uttered during his 2002 campaign for governor, opining that George E. Pataki, the Republican incumbent, had “held the leader’s coat” after the Sept. 11 attacks, a reference to former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Others said they expected that with the Republican primary over, Mr. Cuomo would engage with Mr. Paladino more emphatically in the coming days.
“I think they were waiting for the primary to settle down and have a sense of who their opponent is going to be,” said Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle, the Democratic chairman of Monroe County.
[end of article]
Sophia A. writes: