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Poll: Republican Bob Turner Takes Lead in New York Special

For Democrats who hadn’t already started to panic over Tuesday’s special election in New York’s Brooklyn- and Queens-based 9th Congressional district, now would be a good time to start.

Republican Bob Turner led Democrat David Weprin by 6 points in the nonpartisan Siena College poll released this morning.

The nonpartisan survey conducted Tuesday through late Thursday found 50 percent of those polled would vote for Turner if the election were held “today” while 44 percent would vote for Weprin. Six percent of the 886 likely voters polled said they were undecided.

The numbers have flipped from a Siena poll a month ago, when Weprin had a 6-point lead.

In the current survey, independents broke 65 percent to 27 percent for Turner, a retired television executive who lost to then-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) in the 2010 race for the seat.

Turner also led Weprin, a New York state Assemblyman, in both the Democratic-leaning Queens portion of the district along with the more conservative Brooklyn part of the district.

Union households supported Turner by 4 points. In the Siena poll a month ago, Weprin led in union households by 18 points.

Democrats are relying on help from a strong organized labor get-out-the-vote effort in an election that both campaigns expect to have a low turnout.

And despite the message that Democrats have been hammering home at events across the district and through ads and direct mail — that Turner would cut benefits for Medicare and Social Security — the Republican led 49 percent to 45 percent among likely voters older than 55. In the Siena poll one month ago, Weprin held a small lead in that demographic.

A plurality of likely voters think Weprin is running the more negative campaign, according to the poll.

While there may not be long-term national implications if Democrats lose this district, it may well call into question the political efficacy of their national strategy of knocking Republicans for wanting to undermine popular entitlement programs.

“With four days until election day, this race is going down to the wire,” pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement. “While Turner leads and has momentum on his side, this is still a heavily Democratic district and in a low turnout special election, the campaigns’ get-out-the-vote operations are going to be key. There’s still a lot of campaigning yet to happen.”

The live telephone poll had a margin of error of 3.3 points.

Roll Call is changing its rating of the race from Leans Democratic to Tossup.

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