New York becoming some kind of swing state?

The staunchly blue, wholeheartedly Democratic state of New York seems to be showing some chinks in the armor this year for Obama. Being a former resident of upstate New York, as of a couple months ago, I can explain this issue fully and it’s beginning to make sense as to why.

For months now, Obama has led New York State polls with well over 15 percentage points, usually over 20 points, as would be expected in such a blue state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by over 2 million. However, a recent poll shows the gap narrowing considerably.

Take with a grain of salt that this is just one poll showing Obama with only a 5 point lead and a couple more are due out later this week:

The important aspect there is the date. The Rasmussen and Quinnipiac polls were taken in late July to early August, nothing else had been done until the Siena poll a few days ago which shows Obama’s lead diminished considerably. I am not a person so naive as to think New York would swing to McCain, I’m sure it will not.

A report on this subject from USAToday:

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York pollster Lee Miringoff thought there would be two hot poll questions for New Yorkers this fall:

1. Which presidential candidate from New York would carry the state in November, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton or former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani?

2. Whom should Gov. Eliot Spitzer appoint to the Senate to fill Clinton’s term if she goes to the White House?

To say things didn’t work that way is one of the great understatements of modern New York politics.

Clinton lost the Democratic nominating contest to Barack Obama. Former GOP front-runner Giuliani failed to win a single Republican primary or caucus despite spending tens of millions of dollars.

Even if Clinton had won, Spitzer wouldn’t have been the one deciding who’d replace her. The Democrat resigned as governor in March after he was linked to a prostitution ring.

“A lot can change in six months,” Miringoff says. And so New York is back in the role it has played in presidential elections for the past 20 years.

“In presidential politics, New York’s votes are already assigned,” says Maurice Carroll, a former longtime New York City newspaper political reporter now doing polling on New York issues for Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. “So why should either Obama or McCain give much attention to New York, except for the money, except for the publicity?”

Peter LaMassa, 39, of Massapequa, Long Island, says he doubts the presidential candidates will even bother running many campaign ads in New York.

“It makes you question the whole electoral process,” says LaMassa, who works in financial services. “I think it’s sort of disappointing that only the battleground states get all the attention. It makes some states irrelevant and others so important.”

Even with polls tightening to show Republican John McCain might have a chance to carry the state against Democrat Obama — a Siena (College) Research Institute poll released Monday had Obama up 46%-41% — New York is still irrelevant, Baruch College political scientist Douglas Muzzio points out.

“If Obama is in trouble in New York, that’s the least of his worries,” Muzzio says.

What the Siena poll may be reflecting is New York politics on a local level. Take for example the slew of things going on as recently as earlier this year with Democratic politicians at the state level. First and foremost you had Gov. Eliot Spitzer caught up with his prostitution scandal. Then Spitzer leaves office and the new governor, James Patterson, admits he’s also had affairs and such along with some cocaine use. You also have Rep. Charlie Rangel currently involved in an accounting scandal of sorts. The state is solidly blue which means when politicians screw around, the state Democrats get blamed.

Plus, the biggest, and most obvious thing which may be affecting New Yorkers is that Hillary Clinton was not chosen as Obama’s VP. Hillary Clinton was a popular senator in New York, even with many Republicans. I’m betting that perhaps passing her over left little to be desired amongst New York democrats who were probably banking on their girl getting the VP slot.

I’m thinking that some of it is pouring over into the national arena as well. I have also read that McCain is considering running ads in New York if more polls show the state withing striking distance.

The best McCain could hope for in a close New York race would be to distract Obama from true battleground states such as Ohio and Virginia. Obama could not afford to lose New York in such a close race so he would either have to divert money to the state or ignore it and assume it will still go blue, which I’m sure it would.

Just an interesting dynamic to watch as this race remains so fluid. I’m waiting for more polls later this week to see if they show a trend in New York or if the Siena poll is a complete fluke, which it may very well be.

Still developing…