Two in five New York voters consider themselves political moderates, and they voted overwhelmingly Democratic in the top statewide races Tuesday, propelling Andrew Cuomo, Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer to easy victories.
According to an Associated Press analysis of exit poll results, three-fourths of moderates supported Cuomo over Republican Carl Paladino in the governor's race.
Cuomo, the state attorney general and son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, defeated Paladino, a Buffalo businessman, by a 2-to-1 margin.
In the two U.S. Senate races, moderates backed Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand over Republican Joe DioGuardi and Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer over Republican Jay Townsend by similar margins.
Gillibrand won election to the seat she was appointed to last year after Hillary Rodham Clinton resigned to become secretary of state. She defeated DioGuardi by 3 to 2. DioGuardi represented Westchester County in the House for two terms in the 1980s.
Schumer won re-election to his third six-year term, defeating Townsend by 2 to 1. Townsend, a Republican political consultant, was vastly outspent by Schumer and never ran any general election TV ads.
Nearly two in five New York voters said they supported the conservative tea party movement either strongly or somewhat. A similar number said they opposed the tea party movement, and the rest were neutral.
"The tea party is like where the independents were with Ross Perot but it has more steam and it has legs and I think it might be able to pull it off and really become a third voice," said Gene Hoeltge, who works in information technology and was voting in suburban Pelham, N.Y.
Tea party supporters voted heavily for Paladino, DioGuardi and Townsend.
Three-fifths of New York voters identified the economy as the most important issue facing the country. Almost nine out of 10 said they were either very worried or somewhat worried about the direction of the nation's economy in the next year.
About three-fifths of New York voters said they approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president.
"I think he's doing a great job, but I think his P.R. is terrible," said Ben Finane, editor of a classical music magazine, who voted in Manhattan. "He's losing news cycles, and his accomplishments aren't really touted."
Voters said they trusted Cuomo more than Paladino. While they were evenly divided in their opinon of Cuomo's honesty and trustworthiness, three in four said Paladino is not honest and trustworthy.
The exit poll of 1,740 New York voters was conducted for AP by Edison Research in a random sample of 30 precincts statewide. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.