Can Carl Paladino Really Pull This Off?

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Photo: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke/AP

In normal times, a candidate for governor of New York who fathered a love child with an employee, admitted to forwarding bestiality porn and racist chain e-mails, compared health-care reform to 9/11, and referred to the state's longtime Assembly speaker as "Hitler" and the "Antichrist" might not have a shot as a mainstream nominee. But this year, voters seem much more willing to overlook such eccentricities, in this race and around the country, if they come from a candidate with outsider passion and righteous anger. And that's Buffalo millionaire real-estate developer Carl Paladino, whose campaign slogan from the very start was "mad as hell."

In the past month, he's surged in the polls against his more party-supported (Paladino lost at the convention and had to petition his way into the primary), more politically experienced, and frankly, duller Republican opponent, former Long Island congressman Rick Lazio. What was a thirteen-point Lazio lead on August 18 quickly shrank to a statistical tie in a poll released over the weekend. But can tea-party fervor push Paladino to an upset victory today? We asked five New York political consultants for their predictions on his chances, on a scale of 0 (no way he can win) to 100 (will definitely win).

George Artz, George Artz Communications Inc. — 60 percent chance of winning
Hank Sheinkopf, Sheinkopf Communications — 55 percent chance of winning
Joseph Mercurio, National Political Services — 50 percent chance of winning
Dan Gerstein, Dan Gerstein Consulting — 35 percent chance of winning
Michael Tobman, Hudson TG — 30 percent chance of winning

Average: 46 percent chance of winning


So it's basically anyone's game. Of course, the same consultants are generally certain that even if Paladino does eke out a victory over Lazio, he'll have no shot against the Andrew Cuomo juggernaut.

George Artz, George Artz Communications Inc. — zero percent chance of winning
Hank Sheinkopf, Sheinkopf Communications — 40 percent chance of winning
Joseph Mercurio, National Political Services — zero percent chance of winning
Dan Gerstein, Dan Gerstein Consulting — 5 percent chance of winning
Michael Tobman, Hudson TG — 10 percent chance of winning

Average: 11 percent chance of winning


Regardless of who wins the GOP nomination, both Lazio and Paladino will appear at least once on the ballot in November — Paladino on his new Taxpayers line, and Lazio on the Conservative line.