For all the policy debates they'll have and personality points they'll try to score, the race between Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Republican Matt Doheny cold hinge on something out of their control. That's the top of the ticket.
If Republican Mitt Romney can stay close to President Obama in the polls, Mr. Doheny's fortunes improve, even though New York isn't competitive. You don't want a dispirited Republican base going into a tight down-ballot race.
But if Mr. Romney continues to tank in the polls, it could spell trouble for Mr. Doheny. No way of getting around it.
I asked Mr. Doheny if he's concerned about Mr. Romney's poll numbers during Mr. Doheny's campaign stop in Sackets Harbor today. Here's what he said:
"Here in the north country, I think people look at the race specifically, here, when they vote for Congress. They're voting for who their representative is going to be. I do think Governor Romney will win the congressional district. But specifically here, it's going to be myself versus my opponent. They're going to take a look at our ideas, our record."
Part of Mr. Romney's troubles stem from impolitic comments he made at a fundraiser in May at which he suggested that nearly half the U.S. population will vote for Mr. Obama regardless of what he says because they're dependent on government.
And here's what Mr. Doheny had to say about those remarks:
"I disagree. Plenty of folks are on assistance not because they want to, because they have to. I could not disagree with the governor more. We all fall on tough times."
I've posted a video I took of Mr. Doheny's Q&A session below.
And another thing of note: There was a bit of a back and forth about what Hounsfield Town Supervisor Tim Scee said to Mr. Doheny.
I tweeted that Mr. Scee, a Democrat, had endorsed Mr. Doheny during Mr. Dohney's visit to Sackets Harbor. That was based on Mr. Scee's own comments. But it turns out that Mr. Scee misspoke when he said he was there to "support" Mr. Doheny. He actually supports Mr. Owens, he said in a follow-up phone conversation. He was trying to be welcoming, and went a bit too far, it turns out.
Here's the video. Fast-forward to 6:45 to get to the politics stuff; it's front-loaded with Medicare.