Republican Bob Turner holds a six-point lead in next week's special election to replace disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., according to a new Siena College poll released early Friday that shows voters in the overwhelmingly Democratic district are poised to deliver a stinging rebuke to President Obama and his party.
Turner leads Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin in the poll, 50 percent to 44 percent. Six percent of likely voters in the Sept. 13th election are undecided.
Discontent with Washington and the president is at the heart of Turner's shocking upset bid. In a district he won by 11 points just three years ago, Obama's favorability rating is now upside down in the Siena poll, with 54 percent having an unfavorable opinion of Obama and only 43 percent viewing him favorably. A remarkable 38 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents hold an unfavorable view of the president.
The Republican also has all the momentum: A Siena poll conducted four weeks ago showed Weprin with a six-point advantage. Turner's lead does fall barely within the margin of error, but the poll shows that the GOP is on the verge of a most unlikely victory in the Outer Boroughs-based district, where Democrats hold a three-to-one advantage on the voter rolls.
But the Democratic registration advantage is tempered by the poll's crosstabs. Turner runs much stronger among Republicans, holding 90 percent of the vote, than Weprin does among Democrats, taking just 63 percent. Independents are overwhelmingly lined up behind the Republican, with 65 percent of them supporting Turner and 27 percent choosing Weprin.
Turner's own internal polling last week had shown a tie, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee touted a poll showing Weprin with an 8-point lead. But clearly the DCCC has seen that tenuous sign of hope evaporate too, going up yesterday with a half-million-dollar ad-buy slamming Turner in the closing days of the race.
All of the late money may not have much of an impact, however. According to the Siena poll, 79 percent of likely voters say there is no chance they will change their mind, and 17 percent say they are unlikely to change their mind, leaving just 5 percent who say they are "not very certain" or "not certain at all" in their vote.
Voters have a more positive view of Turner than they do of Weprin. Turner's favorable/unfavorable ratings are in the black (48 percent favorable/34 percent unfavorable), while voters are split evenly on Weprin (41 percent favorable/41 percent unfavorable).
Voters believe Turner is running the more positive campaign, leading Weprin on that question, 43 percent to 32 percent. Correspondingly, a plurality of likely voters believe Weprin's campaign is more negative.
Likely voters in the district are overwhelmingly pessimistic, with 74 percent saying the country is headed in the wrong direction; Turner wins a striking 94 percent of those voters. Mood toward the direction of New York is much rosier, though -- a 47-percent plurality say the Empire State is on the right track.
The economy remains voters' top concern, with 32 percent listing it as the most important factor in making their decision, including nearly half of Turner's supporters. But there is a possible beacon for Weprin: Medicare and Social Security isn't far behind at just 28 percent, and that's been the focus of late, with Democrats falling back to their successful strategy that helped win them a GOP seat in the western New York's 26th District this May.
Nearly half of Weprin's supporters say the candidates' positions on entitlements is driving their vote. But the poll shows that strategy has its limitations: Turner actually has a four-point lead among voters aged 55 and older, 49 percent to 45 percent.
The historical Democratic dominance in the district is evident in one area, however: By a 49-to-38 percent margin, likely voters think Weprin is most likely to win the election, including 23 percent of Turner's supporters.
The Siena poll was conducted Sept. 6-8 and surveyed 886 likely voters. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percent.