ALBANY, N.Y. -- Republican Senate hopeful Fred Akshar holds a commanding 52 percentage point lead over his Democratic opponent Barbara Fiala, according to an exclusive Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll.
"This is as bad as I've ever seen," said Steve Greenberg, Siena Research Institute.
The poll found 72 percent of voters back Akshar, with only 20 percent supporting Fiala.
The numbers have only gotten worse for Fiala since September, when a TWC News/Siena survey found a 28 percentage point advantage for Akshar. Meanwhile, her support from fellow Democrats has fallen as well, with 50 percent supporting Akshar.
"It hasn't gotten better for her, it's flipped," Greenberg said.
Fiala always faced a challenge in the Southern Tier district that was represented by Republican Tom Libous until July, when he was forced from office after being found guilty of lying to the FBI. While the first-time candidate Akshar has high favorability numbers, Fiala has struggled to gain tractions with voters, with 72 percent holding an unfavorable view of her.
"Voters don't like Barbara Fiala right now," said Greenberg.
Akshar's campaign has been fueled by a heavy investment from the state Senate Republicans conference. It's campaign committee has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his behalf, but most voters aren't necessarily motivated by the legislative leadership in Albany.
"Voters don't get to vote for and against legislative leaders," Greenberg said. "For years, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was the target in a lot of Republican campaigns against Democratic Assembly members. Those tactics don't really work.
At the same time, it's a mistake to draw any broader conclusions from the outcome in next Tuesday's vote as to who may win control of the narrowly divided state Senate.
"Nothing that happens on Tuesday is a reflection of what's likely to happen a year from now in a presidential election year, high turnout year, when there are real campaigns going on across the state in a variety of districts between the Democrats and Republicans for control of the Senate.
In a sign of how voters are fed up with Albany, the poll found 65 percent of voters believe the state is heading in the wrong direction.