Nearly half of New York voters say they are unsure about reelecting Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, according to a new NY1/YNN-Marist poll released Tuesday night, but Republicans' efforts to recruit a top-tier candidate for the race hit a roadblock this week.
Just 38 percent of voters will definitely vote to reelect Gillibrand, according to the poll. Only 18 percent definitely plan to vote against her, but 44 percent of voters are unsure about reelecting Gillibrand. Among voters unaffiliated with the two parties, 48 percent are unsure about reelecting Gillibrand.
Gillibrand's job performance ratings underscore the lukewarm feelings -- either positive or negative -- New York voters have for her. Forty percent of voters give her an "excellent" or "good" rating, and 41 percent rate her as "fair" or "poor."
But a look inside those numbers shows a lack of intensity on both sides: Just 6 percent of voters gave Gillibrand a job rating of "excellent," while only 12 percent rate her as "poor."
In contrast to Gillibrand, 56 percent of voters rate Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer as either "excellent" or "good."
Gillibrand, formerly a relatively obscure Upstate congresswoman, was appointed to the Senate in 2009 by then-Gov. David Paterson
to replace Hillary Clinton
, who resigned to become Secretary of State. But Gillibrand ran in a special election in 2010, defeating former Republican Rep. Joe DioGuardi
by 28 percentage points.
Despite Gillibrand's failure to gain traction with New York voters, Republicans are struggling to find a viable candidate. The New York Times reported on Monday
that one GOP prospect, Erie County businessman Marc Cenedella
, maintained a blog on TheLadders.com, a job-search website he founded, that contained "random observations about sex, women and drugs." On Tuesday, Cenedella told the Albany-based, statewide cable public affairs program Capital Tonight
he took "full responsibility" for the content of the site, though he accused Gillibrand of conducting a "smear campaign" against him.
"This is a smear attack by Kirsten Gillibrand who obviously has an interest in keeping me out of the race," Cenedella said.
"Getting smeared by a U.S. senator has made me a lot more optimistic about my chances," he added.
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos
, elected in 2009, is already seeking the GOP nomination.
The NY1-YNN Marist poll was conducted Jan. 18-19, surveying 554 registered voters. The poll's margin of error is +/- 4.2 percent. The poll did not test Cenedella -- or any other Republican -- against Gillibrand in a head-to-head matchup.