A new poll out today from Quinnipiac has some good news for US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: she leads Bob Turner, her nearest Republican rival, by 30 points. With the general election now a little over five months away, Mr. Turner’s opponents for the GOP nod fare even worse, with Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos trailing by 33 points and Manhattan attorney Wendy Long down by 34.
But with a little historical context, the poll reveals just how far Ms. Gillibrand has risen since she was named to the Senate by Gov. David Paterson in 2009. Them, filling in the gargantuan shoes of Hillary Clinton, she seemed vulnerable to a serious challenge from either a Republican or a Democrat. Then, only 25 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of her, with more Republicans than Democrats approving of her appointment.
There was a sense then that if Ms. Gillibrand would be beaten anytime in the foreseeable future, it would have to be in 2010, before she was well-known. But big time would-be contenders on either side of the aisle took a pass, and now it is looking increasingly like Ms. Gillibrand is set to cruise to her second statewide victory in two years. (Or, as conservative commentator John Podhoretz put it on Twitter, “If there ever were a sign of the disaster that is NY GOP, it’s that nothingburger Kirsten Gillibrand is going to win a huge landslide in Nov.”
To get a sense of Ms. Gillibrand’s rise, it is worth looking at where she was two years ago at this time, when she was campaigning hard against, as now, three GOP contenders who were not well-known to the public.
In a June 2010 Q Poll, Ms. Gillibrand had a 44 – 27 percent approval rating and a 37 – 23 percent favorability, with 39 percent saying that they didn’t know enough about her to form an opinion.
By comparison, Ms. Gillibrand now has a 60-22 approval rating, and a 50-18 approval rating.
That year, Ms. Gillibrand led her two Republican opponents, David Malpass and Bruce Blakeman, by 20 points. The poll didn’t ask about her eventual opponent, Joe Dioguardi, but she went on to beat him by 28 points.
But Ms. Gillibrand’s poll numbers don’t just compare favorably to her own 2010 numbers. They also compare favorably to Chuck Schumer, New York’s senior senator and someone who regularly whomps his Republican opponents. In June of 2010, locked into his own re-election battle, Mr. Schumer posted a 60 – 28 percent approval rating and voters said 52 – 33 percent that he deserved reelection.
By comparison, Ms. Gillibrand bests of an equal approval rating and has fewer voters who disapprove of how she is doing. (His own election season over with, Mr. Schumer’s current numbers are slightly higher than Ms. Gillibrand’s, with a 64-26 approval/disapproval.)
It is probably worth noting that in 2010, when he had numbers similar to what Ms. Gillibrand’s faces now, Mr. Schumer won re-election by 34 points.