With four days before the special election the signals are aligning toward a possible victory for Republican Bob Turner in the race to replace Anthony Weiner as Congressman for NY’s 9th Congressional District.
The latest Siena College poll released this morning gives Turner a a six-point lead against Democrat David Weprin a Democratic Party State Assemblyman (crosstabs embedded at the bottom of this post). Siena’s previous poll in August showed the Democrat with a six-point lead.
NY-9 is a Democratic Party leaning district by non-partisan pundits as Democrat +5, which means that a generic Democr at would have a five point advantage over a generic Republican. The last time a Republican won the seat was in the 1920 election.
Geographically Turner has seen a big gain in the heavily liberal part of the district residing in the borough of Queens (40-49%). This may be a result of the entrance of former NYC Mayor Ed Koch into the race. Koch, a Democrat, endorsed Turner and turned the campaign into a referendum on President Obama and his anti-Israel policies. Overall Weprin’s lead among Jewish voters, about one-third of likely district voters, fell from 21 points to six points.
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Last week sources within the campaign told me they saw independents breaking for Turner and the Siena numbers bear this out. The August poll had Turner with a small 4 point lead among independents (46-42%), today’s poll gave Turner a huge 65-27% lead.
Last week Turner released his internal polls which showed the race tied, a few days later another Republican pollster gave Turner a 4 point advantage. What makes this poll particularly important is the Siena College poll is considered non partisan, making the GOP lead more believable.
But the Democratic registration advantage is tempered by the poll’s crosstabs. Turner runs much stronger among Republicans, holding 90 percent of the vote, than Weprin does among Democrats, taking just 63 percent. Independents are overwhelmingly lined up behind the Republican, with 65 percent of them supporting Turner and 27 percent choosing Weprin.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been touting an internal poll of their own showing Weprin with an 8 point lead. But their lack of confidence is showing through as yesterday they purchased a last minute half-million-dollar ad-buy slamming Turner. A half-million buy is relatively huge purchase for the last few days of a congressional campaign even in a market as media expensive as NY . Most campaigns never see that kind of money coming from the national committee, especially with the 2012 election only 426 days away.
For the Democrats this is a big election. If Weprin loses it will be seen as expression of disdain for Obama, not only for his foreign policy but his handling of the economy. The poll shows that the President’s unfavorable are at 54% in this Democratic leaning district, even higher than that of Speaker Boehner.
Another bad sign for Weprin is as people are solidifying their opinions of the candidates, his unfavorables are increasing faster than his opponent (rising 17% to Turner’s 14%)
Part of the reason for the unfavorable change is voters believe Turner is running the more positive campaign, leading Weprin on that question, 43 percent to 32 percent. Correspondingly, a plurality of likely voters believe Weprin’s campaign is more negative.
Even though Turner seems to be ahead, 4 days is a lot of time and $500,000 is a lot of money, the six point lead is not insurmountable, especially when you keep in mind that this is a special election.. Traditionally special elections have a very low turnout, usually the team with the best “get out the vote” organization wins in a tight vote. David Weprin still has the advantage of the President’s organization trying too save face, and a local Democratic machine that has not lost a congressional election since 1921.
Fasten those seat belts and grab the extra large bag of popcorn, the next few days are going to be very interesting.
Below are the crosstabs for the Siena College poll.