OK, let's take a look at the numbers in the Siena Research Institute poll showing Republican Jim Tedisco leading Democrat Scott Murphy by four points. That's down from the 12-point lead in a Siena Poll two weeks ago. When the previous one came out, I noted Tedisco was behind in the northern part of the district, and suggested he should get Sen. Betty Little, a Republican who represents that part of the world (Essex, Warren and Washington counties) to cut an ad for him. A commenter on the post said that was the dumbest thing he'd ever heard. No such ad has appeared. Murphy was ahead by two points in those heavily Republican counties two weeks ago. Now he's ahead by 25 points. (Here are the crosstabs.) Meanwhile, the Republicans have been running TV and radio ads with the same jobs-for-India theme as a mailer I criticized on March 4. Siena says 86 percent of voters have seen or heard Tedisco's ads, but only 12 percent of them said the ads made it more likely they would vote for Tedisco, 28 percent said the ads made it less likely, and 58 percent said it had no effect. That means Tedisco's expensive TV and radio advertising has been counterproductive. His debate performances have not been good enough, and stunts like the continuing "Jim On the Job" appearances do not cut it in this economic crisis.
The poll says Murphy is ahead on the economy (obviously the overriding issue) and, while continuing to do better with Democrats than Tedisco does with Republicans, has made his biggest gains with independents. That means Tedisco needs to hold firm on social issues to solidify his base, while adopting a calmer, more flexible style and finding things to say on the economy, stimulus and budget bills that might appeal to independents and benefit the country. He and the campaign have to recognize that their strategy so far is a loser, and more pandering won't turn it around. The actual Jim Tedisco, as opposed to the caricature presented in this campaign, has a substantive and productive legislative record, despite being in the minority throughout his career, quite often coming up with good ideas and staking out a better position than the Albany consensus. Independent voters want someone willing and able to seriously, undogmatically address economic issues. Tedisco has to convince them he is that man.