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Poll Finds Tedisco Leading NY-20 Race

In New York's open 20th Congressional District, Republican special election candidate Jim Tedisco holds a wide lead over Democratic candidate Scott Murphy, according to a poll conducted for Tedisco's campaign.

The Public Opinion Strategies poll, which surveyed 400 likely voters from Feb. 3-4 with a 4.9% margin of error, finds Tedisco leading 50%-29% against Murphy in a special election matchup. Although the poll was funded by Tedisco and therefore must be taken with a grain of salt, the tally is a drastic turn for the district that elected a Democrat in November by a 23-point margin.

"Special elections are always difficult, and we can expect this race to tighten as the Democrats leverage their financial advantage," said Paul Lanne, who conducted the poll. "While Scott Murphy is unknown to district voters, his personal wealth and fundraising ability -- he has already raised over $600,000 -- provide him with the financial resources to make this race competitive."

The survey also found Tedisco with far more name recognition; 51% hold a favorable opinion of Tedisco and 13% unfavorable, while Murphy has just a 12%-5% favorable/unfavorable rating. "While Jim Tedisco is well-known and well-liked in the district, newcomer Scott Murphy carries very little name identification into this short campaign," said Lanne.

Tedisco is the Republican minority leader in the State Assembly, while Murphy, a venture capitalist, has no elective office experience.

"These early numbers are a result of Jim Tedisco's proven record as an advocate for middle class families. Meanwhile, it's clear that Scott Murphy has been damaged during his recent introduction to upstate New Yorkers as a Wall Street financier who is being dishonest about his failure to pay taxes," said NRCC Spokesman Paul Lindsay.

The DCCC would likely disagree with that assessment of the poll, and recently the committee has begun to call out Tedisco for allegedly billing more than $21,000 in gas receipts to the state for a state-funded vehicle from 2001-2008.

"It's no surprise that people know a career Albany politician's name, the more voters learn about how much Jim Tedisco enjoys his tax payer funded perks like two cars and gasoline for him and his staff, the less they like," DCCC communications director Jennifer Crider told RealClearPolitics. "Times are tough, folks are looking for leaders with deep roots in the community like Scott Murphy who don't just talk about jobs, he saves and creates them."

The 20th District is the second largest district in the state and is located directly upstate from New York City, ecompassing counties to the North, East and South of Albany. The seat became open when Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate. For more on this seat, read our previous write-up. A date has not yet been set for the special election.