ALBANY—The closely watched special election in New York’s North Country is now a two-way dead heat between Doug Hoffman and Bill Owens, a poll finds.
The result shows just how far Hoffman–the politically inexperienced accountant who is the Conservative Party’s nominee for the seat–has surged over the course of the election. The Siena Research Institute poll found he has the support 35 percent of 704 “likely” voters surveyed, with the Democratic Party’s Owens garnering 35 percent. Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, the Republican who was the frontrunner, has the support of just 20 percent of those surveyed. Nine percent remain undecided, and the margin of error is 3.7 percent.
Landing in time for Sunday newspaper editions throughout the 11-county district, the poll result shows Scozzafava’s position has beome nearly untenable. She has come under constant attack for her moderate stances on several issues–same-sex marriage, abortion rights, card check and federal stimulus–and the poll shows only 29 percent of Republicans surveyed support her. Fifty percent support Hoffman, along with 40 percent of the indepent voters. The only candidate to hold elective office, in the western part of the district, Scozzafava has a 51 percent unfavorable rating–the highest of any candidate. Another interesting finding: the only woman in the race is drawing support of just 23 percent of women surveyed, lower than both of her male oppoents.
“Momentum is important in political campaigns,” Steve Greenberg, a Siena poll spokesman, said. “Heading into the final weekend of the campaign, Owens has shown slow, steady momentum, particularly with Democratic and independent voters. With the exception of Democrats, however, Hoffman has picked up considerable steam with voters of virtually every demographic, and particularly with Republican, younger and Catholic voters. He has picked up 10 points in the region he does best in, 12 points in the region Owens wins and 15 points in Scozzafava’s home territory.”
It’s unclear if that slow, steady momentum will be enough for Owens to maintain his lead. Democrats are throwing everything in their arsenal into the district on his behalf: Joe Biden will visit on Monday and a robocall from Barack Obama is expected. That might have some impact: the poll showed Obama is very popular in the district, with 59 percent of voters having a favorable opinion of him.