Popular New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo leads his very conservative Republican challenger Carl Paladino by only six points, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll:

Quinnipiac (9/16-20)
Andrew Cuomo (D) 49
Carl Paladino (R) 43
Someone Else 1
DK/NA  7

I personally find this poll very hard to believe. The Quinnipiac poll and Siena poll (PDF) from August both had Cuomo leading Paladino by more than 30 points. Almost every political observer thinks Cuomo has a lock on the race. Not only is New York a very blue state, but Cuomo is a very popular politician. The poll found that among likely voters, 67 percent approved of his job performance, and his favorability numbers were 51 percent favorable, 34 percent unfavorable. Even against a more polished Republican candidate this year, I would bet that Cuomo would be a huge favorite, and Paladino is by no mean a perfect candidate. I strongly suspect that the next poll of this race wil show Cuomo with a noticeably larger lead.

I do need to fault the poll for not testing Rick Lazio. Despite losing the Republican primary to Paladino, Lazio will remain on the ballot as the Conservative party’s nominee. Even if Lazio doesn’t actively campaign, the Conservative party has a powerful incentive to make sure people vote for him so that they can keep their ballot line.