NY Senate races are story of 'what if'

It seems New York's Senate races are only competitive in a hypothetical sense.

Neither Democrat has drawn a top-tier Republican challenger, despite a plethora of big names reportedly considering. And a new poll shows Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) cruising to victory -- that is unless former Gov. George Pataki (R) decides to get in.

Pataki gets 47 percent of the vote to Gillibrand's 45 percent, with 8 percent undecided, in a March 23-24 survey by Marist College. Without Pataki in the race, Gillibrand beats the two declared Republican candidates by a two-to-one margin. “With her approval rating at 27 percent, Gillibrand will almost certainly have her work cut out for her if Pataki enters the race,” Lee Miringoff, director of the college's Institute for Public Opinion, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) maintains a decent approval rating -- 51 percent of the 775 voters surveyed said he is doing "either an excellent or good job in office."