By John Celock
As U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) prepares to take over Senate Democrats next year, it looks like he’s on an easy path to win a fourth term in his home state.
A poll released last week by Public Policy Polling shows Schumer leading his little known Republican opponent, attorney Wendy Long, 55 percent to 23 percent, with 22 percent undecided. Long, who lost a 2012 Senate bid to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) by 46 points, was picked by Republicans last month for the uphill race against Schumer. Gillibrand’s 72 percent of the vote in 2012 was the largest percentage for a statewide candidate in New York history.
The poll indicated that Schumer holds a 53 percent approval rating statewide, with a 25 percent disapproval rating. Schumer’s approval rating outpolls Gillibrand’s 47 percent approval rating and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) 43 statewide approval rating. The poll indicated that eight percent of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of Long, 10 percent had an unfavorable opinion of Long and 83 percent had no opinion of Long.
Since Schumer’s 1998 defeat of then Sen. Al D’Amato (R), he has proven to be an almost unstoppable force statewide in New York with Republicans routinely struggling in races against him. In his 2004 race against then Assemblyman Howard Mills (R), Schumer defeated him with 70.6 percent, the highest percentage for a statewide candidate at that point in New York history. In 2004, Schumer won 61 out of 62 counties in the state, a feat only matched by former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) in 1988. Gillibrand captured 60 counties in her 2012 race against Long and no statewide candidate has ever captured all 62 counties in a general election.
In 2010, Schumer received 67 percent of the vote against Republican Jay Townsend.
Schumer, a former nine-term congressman from Brooklyn, had originally been considered an underdog in his original 1998 Senate bid, trailing 1984 vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro and then New York City Public Advocate Mark Green in the initial polls for the Democratic nomination to face D’Amato. Since defeating the three-term D’Amato, Schumer has stacked out a presence statewide with annual visits to each of the state’s 62 counties.