If the 23rd Congressional District race was too close to call the first time the Siena Research Institute took a poll, it’s even harder to call now that they’ve published their second poll of the race.
Democrat Bill Owens has surged into the lead in the race to succeed John McHugh as the Congressman from the North Country:
Bill Owens (D): 33%, up 5 points since Oct. 1;
Dede Scozzafava (R): 29% down 6 points;
Doug Hoffman (C): 23%, up 7 points
Undecided/No Opinion: 15%, down 6 points.
(Read the full poll results here.)
“ScozzafavaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s seven-point lead has evaporated over the last two weeks, as voters have gotten to know all the candidates better,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg in a news release announcing the results. “Owens has picked up five points of support, while Scozzafava has lost six points. Hoffman, picking up seven points, has narrowed the gap between first and third place significantly. With just 10 points separating the three candidates, this is likely to be a very tight Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and fiercely fought Ã¢â‚¬â€œ campaign right through election day, now less than three weeks away.”
The poll was taken October 11 – 13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9%.
Scozzafava, once thought the odds-on favorite, has lost support among Republicans. Only 40% of Republicans polled support her. Conservative Hoffman is second at 27%, up 5 points, and even Owens has added Republican support since Siena’s last poll.
Democrats overwhelmingly back Owens. Independents give a slight edge to Hoffman but are fairly evenly split.
Scozzafava suffered a large loss of support in her home area of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, dropping 9 points to only 44% support. She still has a confortable lead in the region over Owens, but both he and Hoffman picked up some backing.
Hoffman’s ad buys and those of his supporter, the very conservative Club For Growth, in the Syracuse market have done him some good. He leads among voters in Oswego, Madison and Oneida counties, up 14 points to 34% in just two weeks. Owens is second there at 31%.
And Owens has sharply increased his backing in his home area, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton and Hamilton counties, earning 45% support, up 13 points in two weeks.
Hoffman remains the candidate with the most to gain in the closing weeks of the campaign. 63% of those polled said they had no opinion of Hoffman or didn’t know who he is.
Scozzafava remains the most unpopular candidate in the survey, with 32% of those polled having an unfavorable opinion of her. That’s up 12 points in two weeks and Siena’s Greenburg said it’s not just the advertising of the other candidates that’s hurting Scozzafava. 28% say her own commercials make them less likely to vote for her, far more than say her commercials make it more likely she’ll win their vote.
“By small margins, voters think Scozzafava is running the most negative campaign and Owens is running the most positive campaign,” Greenberg said.
The poll shows what many had thought would be the outcome of this race: The winner is likely to earn far less than a majority of votes. It also shows that Hoffman is no longer just a spoiler in the race. Greenburg said Hoffman has shown the most growth of any candidate.
Owens, whose campaign has kept to a “Rose Garden” strategy of limiting his public appearances, will not make a public comment on his poll results today, according to his campaign. A campaign spokesperson said they would issue a written statement.