sd52Republican Fred Akshar has a broad, 52-percentage point lead over Democratic candidate Barbara Fiala in the special election fill a vacant state Senate seat in the Southern Tier region, according to an exclusive Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll released this evening.

The poll found Akshar, the Broome County undersheriff, leads Fiala, a former county executive and cabinet member in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, 72 percent to 20 percent.

The gap is nearly double the 28-percentage point difference in Akshar’s favor in a poll released in late September.

The difference is an unusually large one for what was, during the summer, shaping up to be a potentially competitive race to fill the seat left open by the ouster of Republican Tom Libous, who was forced to leave office in July when he was found guilty of lying to the FBI.

A day after the verdict in Libous’s trial, Cuomo endorsed Fiala, who had served his commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles during his first term.

At the time, Cuomo had pledged to help Fiala’s candidacy and raise money for the effort. Cuomo earlier this month contributed $11,000 to her campaign from his re-election account. But Fiala has struggled to raise money elsewhere, while Akshar’s coffers have been flooded with money from Senate Republicans in Albany and rank-and-file members.

But Cuomo’s favorable rating remains well underwater in the district, where only 37 percent of voters polled hold a favorable opinion him, while 61 percent hold an unfavorable view.

In a sign that voters in the region, long starved for jobs and economic prosperity, are upset with the status quo, 65 percent polled believe the state is headed in the wrong direction. Though he has been involved in local politics, Akshar has never been elected to public office.

The district has a Republican enrollment advantage and a Democrat hasn’t been elected to represent the area in the state Senate in nearly a century.

Akshar’s lead is across the board: Democratic voters back him 50 percent to 37 percent, while independent or unaffiliated voters support him 70 percent to 17 percent. Among fellow Republicans, a whopping 93 percent polled back Akshar over Fiala.

Fiala is deeply unpopular in the district, as well. Seventy-two percent of voters hold an unfavorable opinion of her, while 19 percent have a favorable opinion. A solid majority of 68 percent of voters hold a favorable view of Akshar, while 18 percent do not. Akshar continues to poll well with Democrats in that category, with 50 percent holding a favorable view of him.

The poll of 643 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 22 through Oct. 25. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

SD521015 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman