A new poll shows a closer-than-expected special election contest for the open seat in New York’s strongly Democratic 9th Congressional district. Five weeks before voters in the Queens- and Brooklyn-based district go to the polls, Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin led Republican businessman Robert Turner 48 percent to 42 percent in a Siena College poll.
“While Weprin holds a two-to-one advantage over Turner with Democrats, Turner has a nearly six-to-one lead among Republicans,” pollster Steven Greenberg of the Siena College Research Institute explained in a statement.
Turner’s performance in this poll is not far off from the 39 percent he earned in his 2010 bid to oust then-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D). Now that the seat is open, things are looking a bit better for the Republican.
The poll shows Turner had a slight edge with independents: 46 percent to 42 percent.
Weprin led by 10 points in Queens but trailed Turner in Brooklyn by 6 points. Almost 70 percent of residents in the district live in Queens.
Although Democrats have a strong registration advantage in the 9th, in the 2008 presidential election, the Brooklyn part of the district voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) with 57 percent of the vote.
Weprin, whose Assembly district covers a swath of western Queens, comes from a storied political family with deep roots in the borough. His brother Mark Weprin represents a portion of Queens on the New York City Council.
Weprin is a Modern Orthodox Jew, which should help him with the district’s substantial Jewish population. In the poll, Jews supported Weprin over Turner, 56 percent to 35 percent.
A twist in the short race came in late July when former New York Mayor Ed Koch (D) endorsed Turner. Koch said that a vote for the Republican would serve as a reprimand to President Barack Obama for his stance on Israel.
Thirty-eight percent of those polled said Koch’s endorsement would make them more likely to support a candidate. Fifteen percent said a Koch endorsement would make they less likely to support a candidate and 45 percent said it would have no effect. Sixty-nine percent had a favorable opinion of Koch, who served as mayor from 1978 to 1989.
The 9th district seat opened in June when Weiner resigned after admitting he had engaged in “inappropriate” sexual, online communications with at least six women. Sixty-eight percent of those polled had an unfavorable opinion of Weiner.
The Siena College poll was conducted by live telephone calls to 501 likely voters drawn from 1,002 registered voter households. The survey took place Aug. 3-8. It had a margin of error of 4.4 points.
Roll Call Politics has changed the district’s rating from Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.