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N.Y. Polls Show Good News for Bishop, Bad News for Hall

Siena College released three polls Wednesday in three hotly contested New York House races.

One poll showed Democratic Rep. Bill Owens with a 5-point lead over Republican Matt Doheny, even after Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman suspended his campaign last week in the upstate 23rd district.

A Siena survey also found Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop ahead of Republican Randy Altschuler by double digits in the eastern Long Island 1st district.

But Republican challenger Nan Hayworth was 3 points ahead of Democratic Rep. John Hall in the 19th district, north of New York City.

This new batch of polling offers some rare good news for beleaguered House Democrats, particularly in the upstate New York district where Republicans had hoped that Hoffman’s departure would catapult Doheny into the lead.

But in the first independent poll since Hoffman suspended his campaign Oct. 5, the Siena survey still found Owens ahead 44 percent to 39 percent.

Because Hoffman will remain on the Conservative Party ballot line, pollsters first asked voters which of the three candidates they supported. In that case Owens led Doheny by 11 points, with Hoffman garnering 15 percent of the vote. When Hoffman voters were told their candidate had suspended his campaign and endorsed Doheny, almost half them backed the Republican while 16 percent went to Owens.

Owens, who captured the longtime Republican district in a special election last year, was viewed favorably by 46 percent of voters and unfavorably by 35 percent. Doheny’s ratings are more evenly split, with 36 percent of respondents having a favorable view of the candidate and 34 percent viewing him unfavorably.

Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said Owens stronger favorability ratings may account for his slight lead.

But he added, “neither candidate, however, has locked up their supporters. Only about half of each candidate’s supporters say they are absolutely certain to stick with their current choice.”

Greenberg also said that while the 23rd district has more registered Republicans voters, they do not always follow the party line. He said the poll found that while a majority of voters want to repeal the health care reform measures passed by Democrats, they support eliminating the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and support the stimulus program signed by President Barack Obama.

The survey in the 23rd district included 607 voters who were contacted between Oct. 5-7. The margin of error was 4 points.

In the eastern Long Island district, the Bishop had a far more comfortable lead: The poll found him ahead of Altschuler 51 percent to 39 percent.

The poll found Bishop got the support of nine out of 10 Democrats and had a 3-point lead among independents.

“Bishop is better known and better liked than Altschuler, and he is seen by voters as better on all the issues,” Greenberg said.

The survey in the 1st district was conducted among 615 likely voters from Oct. 6-11. The margin of error was 4 points.

The race is far more competitive in the 19th district, which includes suburbs and exurbs north of New York City. Hall got 43 percent compared with 46 percent for Hayworth.

Hayworth is receiving the support of not only three-quarters of Republicans but also has a 7-point lead among independent voters. The poll also found that voters ranked Hayworth better on economic issues, which they said were their top concerns.

“It’s a tight race now and likely to remain that way for the next three weeks,” Greenberg said. “This race will most likely be decided by which campaign does a better job of wooing undecided voters and then getting their supporters to the polls on Election Day.”

The survey of 610 likely voters in the 19th district was conducted Oct 5-10 and had a margin of error of 4 points.

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