Poll: Republican Leads in N.Y. Special Election

Poll: Republican Leads in N.Y. Special Election

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - September 9, 2011

With just four days to go until voters in New York's historically Democratic 9th Congressional District go to the polls, Republican candidate Bob Turner holds a six-point lead over Democrat David Weprin, according to a new Siena Research Institute survey released Friday.

Among likely voters in the district, which comprises parts of Queens and Brooklyn, Turner (pictured) attracts 50 percent of the support while Weprin garners 44 percent. Six percent say they are undecided. The same poll taken a month ago showed Weprin with a six-point lead, indicating the race would be surprisingly close.

Turner, who has received endorsements from a couple of prominent Democrats, manages to attract support from 32 percent of Democrats. Comparatively, Weprin receives support from just 6 percent of Republicans. Turner holds a significant lead over Weprin among independents, 65 percent to 27 percent. Voters have a favorable view of Turner, 48 percent to 34 percent. They are evenly split on Weprin, 41 percent to 41 percent.

Voters in this district have soured on President Obama, and the state of the economy and unemployment weigh heavily on their minds. Obama won this district by 10 points in 2008, but his margin of victory there was much lower than in surrounding New York districts. Now, his favorability ratings are underwater, with 43 percent having a positive view of the president and 54 percent holding a negative one. By a five-point margin, voters see the state of New York on the right track. But notably, 74 percent of voters feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction, while 19 percent are more optimistic.

“The voters of Brooklyn and Queens are speaking to Mr. Obama through this contest, and they will not be silenced,” said Turner campaign spokesman Bill O’Reilly in a statement released in response to the new poll.

Recognizing the possibility of losing the seat -- held for a dozen years by Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned in June after admitting to having inappropriate relations with women online, and for 20 years by prominent Sen. Chuck Schumer -- national Democrats have intervened. On Friday morning, the Democratic-affiliated House Majority Political Action Committee took to the airwaves with a six-figure ad purchase that pins Turner to the Tea Party and touts the New York Times' endorsement of Weprin, according to Politico. On Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made a half-million-dollar ad buy on behalf of Weprin; the ad paints Turner as a corporate executive who favors tax loopholes over protecting benefits for seniors.

The special election will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Voter turnout on that day will be key, as registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 3-to-1 margin. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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