Poll Shows Governor Race Tightening

September 22, 2010 Updated Sep 22, 2010 at 6:36 PM EDT

By Ginger Geoffery

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September 22, 2010 Updated Sep 22, 2010 at 6:36 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Buffalo businessman and Republican candidate for Governor of New York Carl Paladino appears to be gaining on his opponent Andrew Cuomo. The gap between the two men is now down to single digits according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday.

The poll shows Cuomo, the Democratic candidate, leading with 49% of likely voters saying they'll vote for him. Paladino's support in the poll is 43%. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points. A Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll released earlier this week showed a wider 16 point spread between the two men.

Paladino's campaign is saying this latest poll is a big boost for the Republican financially as people who were considering donating to Paladino are now opening their wallets. Paladino's campaign manager Michael Caputo says this turn of events may enable Paladino to match Cuomo's $25 million campaign chest. "Suddenly his phone lit up with offers of financial resources," says Caputo, "We cancelled his schedule. He's in Buffalo returning phone calls and having meetings."

Not long ago Cuomo appeared to be the runaway leader in the Governor's race, so even the pollsters who gathered the latest numbers say they were surprised by what they found. "When they first showed these numbers I said, 'what?," says Maurice Carroll, Director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, "I said, 'look at them again'. I didn't believe it."

The Quinnipiac poll shows 7% of likely voters are undecided, and among those who have chosen a candidate 21% say they still may change their minds about who they'll support on election day. "We asked voters what issue would persuade them to vote for a candidate and 41 percent of New Yorkers say 'change' and that's Paladino's number," says Carroll.

"The subtleties in this poll all point to an election day victory for Carl. Our numbers are going to go up in favorability because Carl Paladino is a regular guy," says Caputo. The polls shows 31% of voters say they still don't know enough about Paladino to form an opinion on him. Because of that Paladino will be spending 60-70% of his remaining campaign time downstate trying to get his message out.

Paladino is also preparing to unveil campaign ads that take aim at Cuomo's personal life. "If he wants to talk about Carl's personal life like everyone in the media has done since the day he announced his candidacy. Let me tell you something. Andrew Cuomo's personal life makes Carl look like a choir boy," says Caputo. Paladino's campaign is not tipping its hand as to what skeletons may be in Cuomo's past.

Cuomo's campaign had not gotten back to Eyewitness News as of Wednesday evening with any comment on the day's developments. The Democrat is scheduled to be in Western New York on Friday.