Siena (pdf) (10/11-13, likely voters, 9/27-29 in parentheses):
Bill Owens (D): 33 (28)
Dede Scozzafava (R): 29 (35)
Doug Hoffman (C): 23 (16)
Undecided: 15 (21)
We had a vague sense this was coming, what with the news stories in the last few days describing a faltering Dede Scozzafava campaign low on cash, and rumors abounding in the rightosphere about Republican private polls showing Scozzafava down by double digits. Now we have it out in the open, though: Democrat Bill Owens has opened up a lead in the special election to succeed John McHugh in the 23rd, turning a 28-35 deficit into a 33-29 edge. (Discussion already underway in tietack‘s diary.)
Owens’ gains have come, apparently, simply by better introducing himself to the district. He’s never been elected before, but he’s been dominating the TV airwaves compared to the other two candidates. That’s helped him with Democrats — he’s improved his share among Democrats from 48% to 55% — and in his home turf of the east North Country around Plattsburgh, where he went from 32% to 45%. Scozzafava, on the other hand, has declined precipitously among the groups where she needs to do best: Republicans, 47% to 40%, and in the west North Country which she represents in the Assembly, 53% to 44%. Conservative Doug Hoffman is buoyed by gains in the part of the district where none of the candidates hail from — Madison, Oneida, and Oswego Counties near Syracuse — which is also probably the most conservative part of the district; there, he moved from 20% to 34%, where he actually leads the other two.
The developing meme of the day seems to be “GOP civil war” over this race. The Hill reports that only 17 Republican House members have given to Scozzafava, and a sizable percentage of that 17 is GOP leadership… although with one key exception:
In an effort to prove Scozzafava can attract conservatives, Sessions pushed Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) to step up and endorse her. After his announcement, Hensarling took shots from some prominent conservative blogs and media outlets, with some going so far as to lob unfounded charges about Hensarling’s personal life.
Leadership aides blame those incidents on [Republican Conference chair Mike] Pence, and say his decision not to endorse Scozzafava harms cohesion.
With the GOP needing to support centrist candidates in swing districts in order to get back closer to power in 2010, this may just be the tip of the iceberg on a growing establishment/movement schism:
“I don’t think this is an NRCC problem. This is a much broader Republican problem,” the [anonymous] conservative lawmaker added. “The inability of the Republican coalition to coalesce is going to be a huge challenge for us in 2010.”‘