Is Michael Grimm a glass half-empty kind of guy? Or is he excited about that gulp of water?
The Staten Island Congressman certainly got some mixed news in our new poll which shows him with a narrow lead over Domenic Recchia, 44 to 40 percentage points.
If you're a two-term incumbent less than two months out before the election, it's generally not a good thing to be that far below 50 percent. The rule of thumb is that undecided voters – about 12 percent in this case – break more heavily toward the unknown challenger.
On the other hand, you're smacked with a federal tax evasion charge and you're the Ray Rice of Congress after threatening a reporter on camera and you're still winning? Things could be far worse for the two-term lawmaker.
The poll shows that both candidates have a lot of work to do when it comes to defining Recchia between now and Election Day. The former Brooklyn City Councilman is still unknown by 45 percent of those polled – a very high number to hold in September. Not surprisingly, only 12 percent of voters don't know Grimm.
It helps Recchia greatly that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has committed to spending close to $1 million in the race – and both DCCC ads that have aired are high caliber.
But despite Staten Island voters saying that Recchia's Brooklyn residency doesn't affect their vote, Grimm is leading in the borough 48 points to Recchia's 39 points. Grimm's indictment, however, is not surprisingly dragging him down with even 39 percent of Republicans saying it makes them less likely to vote for him.
With little help from donors or outside Republican interest groups – and an unwillingness to debate his opponent on NY1 – Grimm will be largely going it alone between now and Election Day. It's clear that a lot of baggage is weighing him down but the campaign may actually hinge on Recchia and whether or not he's palatable to voters in the race's final weeks. We'll ask voters how much water is in that glass in a few more weeks.