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New Poll Shows a Dead Heat in N.Y.'s 23rd District Between Democrat, Conservative

By Karl Vick
A new poll out Saturday morning shows a dead heat between two of the three candidates in Tuesday's special congressional election in Upstate New York.

The Siena College survey has Democrat Bill Owens with 36 percent of likely voters in New York's 23rd Congressional District and Conservative Party upstart Doug Hoffman with 35 percent. Republican Dede Scozzafava had 20 percent, the latest sign that the pounding she has received from negative ads financed by the Club for Growth has badly hollowed out her support in this historically Republican district.

The percentage of voters with an unfavorable impression of Scozzafava, a member of the state assembly, spiked from 29 percent two weeks ago to 51 percent this week.

There were indications that Scozzafava suffered from TV spots that appeared to have been placed by her supporters but were financed by a conservative group slyly calling attention to her support for gay marriage and unions. Of those who reported seeing Scozzafava commercials, 45 percent said they were less likely to support her and only 9 percent more likely to support her. No other candidate saw a lopsided effect.

The survey of 704 likely voters was taken Tuesday through Thursday; it has a 3.7 percent margin of error.

"Hoffman is now winning among Republican voters," said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg, who added that the Conservative nominee also maintained his slight lead among independents. "He is getting the support of 50 percent of Republicans. Scozzafava is down to 25 percent."

The poll was completed before Thursday night's televised candidate debate, the only one attended by the novice Hoffman, who appeared emphatic but occasionally ill at ease. In Siena polls released since the start of October, support for the Lake Placid accountant has risen from 16 percent to 23 percent to the current 35 percent.

"Clearly Hoffman has a lot of momentum as we head into this final weekend," Greenberg said. "But there are a lot of other factors. What does the turnout look like? What will the weather be? Hoffman doesn't have a major-party infrastructure behind him. He has no union support."

One clue may nest in the last question in the survey: "Regardless of which candidate you plan to vote for, who do you think will win the special election?"

"Owens" was the answer 37 percent of the time, "Hoffman" 22 percent and "Scozzafava" 20 percent. Another 21 percent offered no opinion.

The special election was called to fill the seat vacated when John McHugh, the moderate Republican first elected in 1992, accepted President Obama's offer to serve as secretary of the Army.

By Karl Vick  |  October 31, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
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Scozzafava just suspended her campaign Super poor judgment on Newt's part for endorsing her.

Posted by: TooMuchSoccer | October 31, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Turnout, weather forcasts, party support, union support - all irrelevant if we are to save our nation and our beloved Constitution.

Only principles and values should ever be considered when choosing a candidate for election (who, by the way, would work for me, not themselves.)The game-playing shall cease after 2010.

Gingrich's opinion lends him no credence with patriotic American Conservatives.

Posted by: msmarine1 | October 31, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

As someone who actually lives in NY-23, a lot of the comments are just plain silly or wrong. It is really too bad that our election has been hijacked by ideologues and outside interests. Republicans such as John McHugh have regularly won in the region with union support. NYSUT, with 33,000 members in NY-23 backed Scozzafava. It is hard to believe that they will now back Mr. Hoffman.

Perhaps it is time conservatives elsewhere form their own conservative party nationally rather than turn the Republcan Party into something it isn't. Here in NY we have a Conservative Pary. In light of that conservatives who register as Republicans are--dare I say it--RINOs!

Posted by: welchd | October 31, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Either the Republicans find their way back to the core principals of small government, lower taxes and personal liberties or there will finally be a third party. It will be an uphill fight as the Democrats and Republicans have placed as many road blocks as possible in the way of election laws that basically make it impossible for a Third Party Candidate to succeed.

We need new leadership in the Republican party.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | November 1, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

support Senator Kasim Reed for Mayor of Atlanta!

Posted by: halleberry4me | November 1, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Supporters from the Independents will decide this one!

Posted by: SeniorVet | November 2, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I am a strong Pres Barack Obama supporter who deeply admires the superior courage of Dede Soozzafeva in standing up to and spitting back at the cowardly Republican Conservatives who sandbagged her. I admire one other strong Republican Woman also. that would be Megan McCain who stood up to the coward Rash Limpblls when he and Ingram attacked her. most Conservative Republicans have shown themselves to be the scum of their Party. Yellow in a pack, they ganged up on Dede when she is exactly what Republicans need to start winning again. a bunch of ugly fat white men forced her out. shame on them. rcm.

Posted by: rcbootsmiller | November 2, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

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