Everything may change in 2010 in the Empire State. From a blue state bystander, New York may emerge as the epicenter of a political earthquake. It may elect a Republican governor, topple the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, dethrone Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats, and retake the state Senate.
The Republican primaries have tested the establishment candidates for governor and senator and found them wanting. In their place, the primary voters have nominated two feisty, scrappy contenders whose hearts and souls are not far from the tea party movement -- Carl Paladino and Joe DioGuardi.
Paladino trails Andrew Cuomo by only 49 to 43 in the Quinnipiac Poll and 49 to 40 in the SurveyUSA Poll, both taken in the past few days. An earlier survey, by Rasmussen -- taken right after the primary -- gives Cuomo a more comfortable 54-38 lead. But the gathering momentum Paladino is showing in the immediate aftermath of the primary is evident in both more recent polls.
A Siena College poll, which may have oversampled Democrats, shows a 57-24 race, a finding that is out of kilter with what seems to be happening.
And, just when Republicans were mourning their decreased chances of victory in the Delaware Senate race comes the news that former Rep. DioGuardi has a great shot at Kirsten Gillibrand. A Rochester Democrat and Chronicle/White Plans Journal News poll released yesterday has him only one point behind the appointed senator, 45 to 44, while Quinnipiac has her ahead by only 48 to 42.
Nationally, Republicans need 10 pickups to win the Senate. They have leads in eight races: Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Republican Sharron Angle is tied with Democrat Harry Reid in Nevada, and with Reid far under 50 percent of the vote -- and most undecided vote against incumbents -- Nevada looks to be a Republican pickup.
For the 10th seat -- the vital one that will assure control -- DioGuardi now looks like the party's best bet. The others are: California, where Republican Carly Fiorina trails incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer by only a few points, Washington state, Connecticut and Delaware, where O'Donnell may yet surprise the world and pull out a victory.
On the House side, New York's role is no less crucial.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the body charged with running the GOP House campaign, lists seven New York seats as among the hundred it considers to be in play -- tied with Pennsylvania for the national lead. The key races, according to the NRCC, are: