With less than 24 hours before polls open, the latest sign of a Republican wave is a just-completed Siena Research Institute Poll in New York's 1st District showing Republican challenger and state Sen. Lee Zeldin leading six-term Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop by 50 percent to 45 percent districtwide.
The results are nothing short of sensational in that, while liberal Bishop has long been targeted by the GOP, he has always clung to the Suffolk County district. In the banner Republican year of 2010, for example, the incumbent faced a strong and well-funded challenger by businessman Randy Altschuler. But in one of the last races to be decided that year, Bishop was re-elected by 263 votes.
U.S. Army Reserve Major and attorney Zeldin carried the Republican and Conservative Party banners against Bishop in 2008 but lost 58 percent to 42 percent in November. Elected to the state Senate two years later over a Democratic incumbent, Zeldin, 34, has run hard on the themes of repealing and replacing Obamacare and a harder line on national security.
During a recent "Election Watch" panel at the American Enterprise Institute, Michael Barone, father of the "Almanac of American Politics," predicted significant Republican gains in the House because of the strong showing of GOP challengers in Democratic-held seats.
"And it's pretty difficult to build a Republican district in New York state," said Barone. But all signs are Zeldin is doing it.
If elected, Zeldin could assume a unique niche in the House. With the defeat of former House GOP Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia for renomination, a "Rep. Zeldin, R-N.Y." would become the lone Jewish Republican in Congress — unless, of course, other Jewish Republicans win congressional districts elsewhere.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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