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A very special election: Referendum on Medicare in NY-26

“Today's tight race in New York's 26th Congressional District has become a referendum on the Republican plan to transform Medicare,” the AP writes. “The western New York district is among the most conservative in the state. Nevertheless, the latest poll shows Democrat Kathy Hochul with a slight lead over Republican Jane Corwin in the race to succeed Republican Chris Lee, who resigned.”

Roll Call: “[F]air or not, the race has been framed as the country’s first unofficial referendum on Republicans’ plan to reshape Medicare. This referendum, however, could send ripple effects deep into 2012.”

The Hill: “All of Washington will be watching New York on Tuesday, where a Democratic win in the special election could have national implications for the Republican Party. The special election for former Rep. Chris Lee’s (R) seat has been cast as a referendum on the GOP’s budget proposal and given both parties a chance to test campaign themes ahead of the 2012 election.”

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: “Western New York has been in the spotlight as the candidates debated the future of Medicare, federal spending, taxes and the broader purpose of government.”

The Buffalo News’ editorial page: “This page recognized Corwin’s abilities, but endorsed Hochul in the race. We believe she is best suited to the task of restraining government while protecting important programs like Medicare, safeguarding the environment, improving the nation’s education and other issues.”

Polls are open from 6:00 am ET to 9:00 pm ET.