New Poll Confirms Owens, Hoffman in Dead Heat

Posted October 31, 2009 at 9:12am

After nabbing a long list of endorsements from Republican lawmakers and candidates this week, third-party candidate Doug Hoffman now looks to be the pick of Republicans in the special election in upstate New York as well. Hoffman, who is running on the state Conservative Party line, has the support of half of Republican voters in the 23rd district special election and is locked in a tight race with attorney Bill Owens (D), according to a Siena College poll released Saturday, likely the final independent poll before the Tuesday election.Owens and Hoffman are in a dead heat according the survey, with Owens at 36 percent and Hoffman at 35 percent. The latest numbers showed the two men continuing to pull away from Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava, who has dropped well behind to 20 percent. The poll of likely voters was conducted Oct. 27 to 29 and had a margin of error of 4 points.“Unfortunately for Assemblywoman Scozzafava, this has become a two person race between Owens and Hoffman,— Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said in a release. “She now has the support of only one in five voters, having gone from 35 percent support to 20 percent support since the beginning of the month.—The special election was triggered by the resignation of nine-term Rep. John McHugh (R), who was confirmed as secretary of the Army in September. Though it has a Republican registration advantage, the district voted narrowly for President Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.Hoffman, who started out as a little-known insurgent candidate before picking up the backing of conservative groups like the anti-tax Club for Growth, has peeled off Republican as well as independent voters from Scozzafava. He now leads her 50 percent to 29 percent among GOP voters, with Owens taking 13 percent. And Hoffman has a plurality of the independent vote, at 40 percent, with Owens at 35 percent and Scozzafava at just 15 percent, even though it is Scozzafava who is running on the state Independence Party line.Owens’ 1-point lead in the new poll is bolstered by Democratic voters, 66 percent of whom say they are backing the Plattsburgh attorney. To help rally Democrats to go to the polls, the White House is sending Vice President Joseph Biden to the district to campaign with Owens on Monday.Hoffman even led Scozzafava among Democratic voters in the latest poll, 14 percent to 11 percent, despite the latter’s more progressive stances on abortion and gay marriage.Scozzafava has been hurt by an onslaught of criticism from Democrats — who have attacked her economic priorities and refusal to support the health care overhaul — and conservatives who say she is not a true Republican because of her social stances and support of the stimulus package and labor unions. As a result, her unfavorable rating has soared to 51 percent from 20 percent on Oct. 1. Her favorable rating, meanwhile, has dropped 4 points, from 33 percent to 29 percent.Despite being the subject of attacks, it is Scozzafava whom a plurality — 27 percent — of voters view as having run the most negative campaignHoffman has the highest favorable rating, at 41 percent, with Owens at 40 percent. Both have unfavorable ratings in the mid-30s.With Scozzafava sinking, the outcome will likely be determined by which of the remaining two candidates can draw away more of her supporters. Just 39 percent of Scozzafava voters said they were absolutely certain they were backing her and would not change their minds, compared with more than half of Owens and Hoffman’s backers who said they were firmly committed to their choice.“In three days voters go to the polls and it is likely that whichever campaign — Owens’ or Hoffman’s — does a better job of getting their voters to the polls will be the campaign holding a victory party,— Greenberg said.