NY-Sen-B: Gillibrand Leads Ford in Primary

Marist (pdf): (1/13-14, registered voters, 11/16-17 in parentheses)

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-inc): 43

Harold Ford Jr. (D): 24

Undecided: 33

(MoE: ±5%)

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-inc): 45 (45)

George Pataki (R): 42 (47)

Undecided: 13 (8)

Harold Ford Jr. (D): 36

George Pataki (R): 42

Undecided: 22

(MoE: ±3.5%)

With the once-fanciful idea of Tennessee’s Harold Ford Jr. running for the Senate in New York seeming a little closer to reality with each week, Marist decided to poll the question. (This comes despite various Democratic bigwigs trying to warn Ford off — this time, it was fellow centrist Martin Frost‘s turn.) Marist finds that Kirsten Gillibrand has a large edge over Ford in the Democratic primary, although with a substantial number of unknowns, suggesting that Gillibrand doesn’t have things locked down and that people don’t really know what to make of Ford yet (if they’ve even heard of him, which I suspect most New Yorkers haven’t).

In the general, they find that Gillibrand has improved her position against Republican ex-Gov. George Pataki slightly over the last few months, while Ford loses by 6 (although, again, that may have to do with Ford not being well-known). Also, there’s very low likelihood of Pataki running; while he hasn’t ruled it out, his actions lately have pointed more toward a dark horse run for the Presidency. In fact, another Republican is tired of waiting, and went ahead and declared his candidacy: Port Authority Commissioner Bruce Blakeman. Given the GOP’s recruitment woes in this race, he may be the best they can put forward.

What I’d like to see, though (and I’m a little disappointed Marist didn’t poll on the question) is how Ford would fare as an independent candidate a general election matchup against Gillibrand. To me, this seems like the only way he seems like he’d ever actually get anywhere in New York, by trying, a la Joe Lieberman 2006, to grab the center and most of the right with a marginal Republican having little effect in a general election. Closed primaries in New York prevent him from taking advantage of GOPers and right-leaning indies, but the general election doesn’t have that problem. Taegan Goddard, in particular, has been wondering out loud about this angle, and he’s saying today that Ford didn’t completely shoot down the idea (albeit in a statement saying he would be a Democrat but loaded with weasel words):

I’m a proud Democrat, and I think I’m going to remain that. I think Democrats are looking for a stand-up, independent guy to represent them in this race… So, in that sense, I would run as an independent.

RaceTracker Wiki: NY-Sen-B

27 thoughts on “NY-Sen-B: Gillibrand Leads Ford in Primary”

  1. Due to New York’s unique election laws Ford doesn’t need to decide now to run as an Independent. New York allows minor parties to cross endorse. He can run in the Democrat primary while at the same time run on a third party line.

    Jacob Javitz did this in 1980 after he lost to D’Amato in the Republican primary. He stayed in and ran in the general as a Liberal.

    If Ford wants to run in the general as an Independent he doesn’t need to make that decision until after he loses the primary.

    This is what Lieberman did in CT.

  2. Why are people still polling Pataki?  I thought he already closed the door.

    I’ll be honest, I’m a Harold Ford fan. (waits for the boos) I still this run is run is misguided and flat out a waste of his time and energy.  I think it will be good to see Gillibrand answer questions and since no ACTUAL New York Democrat did, I guess Harold felt the need to do this.  

  3. good to see Gillibrand pulling out a lead over Pataki, whose more than likely not going to run. If she’s leading Pataki then she has a chance to pull a CLinton/Schumer/Spitzer blowout against a sacrificial lamb    

  4. I’m not big on class warfare really, but we know Harold wanted to make a lot of money and he’s a bright guy/smooth talker.  

  5. Why? Cos she will beat the living be-jesus out of him and better secure her position as a senator. The guy is way out of his league and clearly is a tool for some aggrieved group of NY money bags…whatever!

    I never once believed Gillibrand was vulnerable to any primary or GOP opponent b/c she has the money, muscle and is strategically well-positioned (upstater, female, young fresh face, generally toes the party line) to win. If she could have been taken down, it would have been right after she was appointed, but that ship has long sailed. She truly is the luckiest Dem Senator running in 2010.

    Whether Ford be a “red-neck limousine liberal” or just plain dumb, he has managed to do for Gillibrand in 1 wk, what she could not accomplish in 1 yr.  

  6. There is no way in hell Kirsten Gillibrand gets defeated by a Republican in New York this November. The fact that polls say she might is a good reason to distrust all polls that say incumbent Democrats are doing worse than you would expect. Normally-Democratic voters who tell pollsters they will vote Republican are bluffing, but they will vote Democratic on Election Day.

  7. A lot of people don’t know who she is besides being that woman appointed by Patterson.

    She needs to do more to get herself on the news shows in the way Chuck Schumer always is.  She needs to get a higher profile now because unless she defines herself she risks having herself defined for her once an opponent emerges.

    Luckily so far she has no viable opponent unless Pataki decides to put down his hash pipe and stop daydreaming he has any shot in hell of being President.

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