October 15th, 2009
12:35 PM ET
11 years ago

Poll: GOP split could lead to Democratic victory

(CNN) - A new poll indicates that a split on the right could allow Democrats to take over a congressional district they haven't won in generations.

According to a Siena College survey released Thursday, 33 percent of likely voters in New York's 23rd congressional district support Democrat Bill Owens, with 29 percent backing Republican Dierdre Scozzafava and 23 percent supporting Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

Scozzafava's dropped 6 points over the past two weeks, with Owens now up 5 points and Hoffman jumping 7 points. The Democrat's 4-point lead over the Republican is within the poll's sampling error.

The election in the three-way race to fill a vacant congressional seat is 19 days away. The office opened up after nine-term Republican Rep. John McHugh stepped down after being confirmed as Secretary of the Army. The largely rural district spans 11 counties in northern New York.

Republicans have represented this area of the state since 1872. McHugh never won less than 60 percent of the vote in his nine election victories, but Barack Obama did edge out John McCain in the district in last year's presidential election.

Scozzafava won the nomination in a vote taken by the 11 GOP county chairman in the district, rather than through a traditional primary election. The local Republican leaders picked the state assemblywoman, who is also backed by the National Republican Congressional Committee, because they felt her moderate views would appeal to centrist Republicans, independents, and even some Democrats.

The move sparked a revolt among many conservatives, who are angry with what they call her liberal views on same-sex marriage and abortion. They are backing Hoffman, an accountant, who is running on the Conservative Party line.

The poll indicates that Scozzafava is edging out Hoffman 40 percent to 27 percent among Republicans - but that 13 point lead is down from a 25 percent margin two weeks ago. According to the poll, 31 percent of independent voters back Hoffman, with 28 percent supporting Owens, a lawyer, and 24 percent backing Scozzafava. The survey suggests that Hoffman's gained 11 points among independents over the past two weeks.

Over that time period, the fiscally conservative Club for Growth and the Hoffman campaign have both hit the air with spots that paint the third-party candidate as the race's true conservative candidate.

"Scozzafava's seven-point lead has evaporated over the last two weeks, as voters have gotten to know all the candidates better," says Siena pollster Steven Greenberg. "Hoffman remains the least known candidate. Nearly half of those who say they are voting for Hoffman don't know enough about him to have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him."

"There is a big geographic split in the district, which stretches across more than 200 miles and parts of 11 counties," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"According to the Siena poll, the Republican is ahead in the Watertown media market along the St. Lawrence river and the upper reaches of Lake Ontario. The Democrat has an advantage near the Vermont border and into the Albany media market. And the poll indicates that the third-party candidate may have the edge in the Syracuse media market at the western edge of the district."

The Siena College poll was conducted Sunday through Tuesday, with 617 likely voters in New York's 23rd congressional district questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Obama worst president EVER

    Dream on, CNN. Your party is in trouble.

    October 15, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. J

    Where would that split be?? Between the insane WAY RIGHT and disingenuous tea bagger backers and the common sense real republicans that just happen to still be around??

    October 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. gt

    those arent real rebublicans,,, no pick up trucks and spitting tobacco,,

    October 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. Denis

    The Republican Party is regularly referred to by its nickname (G.O.P.). Instead of G.O.P. meaning “Grand Old Party”, a more fitting meaning for G.O.P. should be “Greedy Offensive Pathetic”.
    The Republican Party has earned its new nickname because of the Party’s past and current bad decisions, questionable actions and not-so-grand behaviour.
    The "Old" can possibly stay but it not much anymore a national "Party" that reflects the diversity and openness that made America great throughout its history but more of a Party that more and more represents, narrow-minded, primarily white, ultra-conservative, mean-spirited, voters who resist constructive change, a sensitivity to the needs of its people and not to its corporations. You know the folks that relate to the “Rush” type.
    It is very sad situation that more voters and I only have restrictive choices for our Political Representatives and Leadership.

    October 15, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    NY, my hometown, is the home of liberals. The GOP don't stand a chance of winning that district.

    October 15, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. LacrosseMom(stuck in moderation)

    On the Keith Olbermann Show, I saw the video of Sen. Lindsey Graham being attacked..... by his OWN party! I could not believe how vicious these people were! I know they hate President Obama....... but...... the Far-right ALSO hates anyone...... who dares to stand up and work for the GOOD OF AMERICA!

    Republicans are a party fragmented by hate. Hate, fear, lies and division eventually damages everyone........ especially those who ...... spews........ hate, lies, fear and division! What goes around, comes around!

    I felt sorry from Sen. Graham. No one deserves to be ......... hated & attacked! No one.

    October 15, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. See the Light

    The majority of American voters are getting very tired of ultra conservative radicalism within the republican party directing its political direction. This takes away a more moderate choice in ideology with those that are not tied to the far right and are more moderate or left of center. There is a big fear in this country from a majority of citizens, of turning this government into a theocracy such as many of the more radicalized Islamic countries even though it may be called "Christian." A theocracy is a theocracy and generally only wants to dictate one way of thought and behavior. Remember who, in recent history said "if your not with us, then your against us."

    October 15, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    If this happens, the GOP will control the grand total of 2 Congressional districts in the entire state. I never thought I would see see the GOP on verge of becoming virtually extinct in rural upstate NY, an area that has been solidly Republican since the Civil War.

    The reason? NY conservatives led the charge under James Buckley over 40 years ago, forming their own party and turning the NY GOP into a glorified servent for an agenda that was at odds with its own history. They turned their backs on Dewey, Rockefeller, Horton, Conable, and Kemp, and have embraced oblivion instead. The NY GOP once stood for moderate social policies and wise government spending: now, they are going the way of the Whigs.

    October 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, North Carolina

    Pay attention, GOP. Those us you've been trying to ignore out of existence for the last decade or so are coming to take the Republican Party back and return it to the principles you've so thoroughly repudiated.

    October 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Linda C in Cal

    Keep it up with your propaganda CNN! Nice try, but have you checked your ratings lately?

    October 15, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Go Doug GO! No more Dems, No more GOP, the time for these parties to leave.

    October 15, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Another Home is Forclosed on Every 7.5 Seconds

    I love it! Conservatives are destroying their own party! Thanks Neo-Cons!

    October 15, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. SLM

    Time for a viable third party. Democratic victories spell disaster for this country.

    October 15, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. yuri

    It is quite perspicacious that the rift between blue dog and other Dems is not that deep as the one between GOPgenerals, and the cut-throat conservatives, including the right-wing rascals.

    October 15, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Jack from MINNESOTA

    The Democrats SHOULD win, and big. At least they have a people-oriented agenda, which is more than can be said for the Republicans, who have no agenda at all except saying no to everything. These Republican Congresspersons are a complete waste of taxpayers' money and should be replaced!

    October 15, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. Oy Vey

    The GOP's implosion can only be good news for all of us.

    Moderates need to unite in a third political party. Leave the loony-lefties, and righty-tikes beside the road and get our business done !

    October 15, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Beverly in NC

    The lack of Republican integrity, honesty, and ANY effort to help restore our nation and help Americans on any level will ensure massive Republican losses in 2010 and 2012.

    They have no leadership, no ideas, no solutions and no direction. They are full of hate, racism, violence-mongering, fear-mongering, and more lies than can be counted. Americans are sick of their constant negativity, ridiculous attacks on everything President Obama does, and their do-nothing attitude and call for failure for our nation.

    Traitors have no place in our government. We will be using our votes to rid this nation of these Republicans who have betrayed the People who elected them.

    October 15, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |