Yesterday, I wrote about a new poll that showed Democrat Scott Murphy within single digits of Jim Tedisco in the NY-20 race to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in the House. Today, a new poll released by Siena Research Institute (712 LVs, Mar. 9-19, MOE +/ 3.7%), the same group that had Murphy 12 points down two weeks ago, confirms that positive movement for Murphy and actually shows him within 4 (2/26 poll results in parentheses.)
Murphy's gains have been most dramatic among Independents who now favor him 43-37, a net gain of 20 points in two weeks, and on the issue of the economy where Murphy is now favored 42-38, a net gain of 8 points for Murphy. Clearly the focus on Tedisco's unwillingness to take a stand on the stimulus plan is working for Murphy. Remember, NY-20 has a 15 or so point GOP registration advantage but did vote for Obama in November. This race is swiftly becoming a test case in how a Democrat should run on Obama's agenda even in a conservative district.
As Stu Rothernberg wrote yesterday when he moved the race to pure toss-up status:
The Republican voter registration advantage appears to be a lagging indicator of the direction of a district that voted overwhelming for Gillibrand and gave Barack Obama a more narrow victory last fall.
There appears to be a sizable population of Republicans that aren't yet willing to vote for state Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco (R). Democrats have Tedisco on the defensive for not taking a stance on the stimulus bill in a district where President Obama and Gillibrand are very popular.
Update [2009-3-12 15:47:31 by Todd Beeton]:Always good to peek in on the #ny20 Twitter feed to see what the right is doing to activate on Tedisco's behalf and to see how they're feeling. This tweet jumped out at me:
Deyprod: Michael Steele is dumping tens of millions into NY20. If we can't win that district, we deserve to be in the minority. (70K more GOP voters)
Not that Steele is dumping that much into the race...yet, but I think the analysis is pretty much right on: they should be in the minority.
A new DCCC poll conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group (400 LVs, Feb. 24-25) shows Democrat Scott Murphy closing in on Republican Jim Tedisco in the race to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the House (via Politico.)
Tedisco 44 Murphy 37 Sundwall 4 Undecided 15
The last poll of this race, which showed Tedisco up 12%, was taken Feb. 18-19 and did not include Sundwall, a Libertarian candidate.
The special election is set for March 31 and does favor Tedisco, however, Nate Silver sees a possible upset in the making.
However, several factors could lead to an upset here and a Democratic win. First, recent polling has shown Murphy edging closer, and Tedisco under 50%. Second, it appears that, although Republicans will again challenge the validity of signatures, third-party libertarian candidate Eric Sundwall may be poised to get on the ballot, which would likely siphon off some Tedisco votes. Third, Democrats are spending seriously on the race, while Steele's efforts have been largely cosmetic. Steele campaigned on the idea that as chairman, he would lead the party back to winning races in territory they've been ceding. Still, his personal efforts behind fundraising on this race have been terrible, and Republicans watching the internal dynamics know it. If Tedisco wins, Steele won't get any credit behind the scenes. Fourth, Tedisco is struggling with his message on the stimulus package, which is apparently tied to his softening poll numbers.
Check out this latest web ad from Murphy on Tedisco's evasion of the simple question: "would you have voted for the stimulus package or not?"
In the race to replace Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand in the House (the special election is set for March 31,) Democratic candidate Scott Murphy has been ratcheting up the pressure on Republican Jim Tedisco to take a stand on the stimulus package, something he has thus far refused to do. Scott posted his challenge to Tedisco over at HuffPo last week and has launched a petition.
Local news has picked up the story. Watch Tedisco slip and slide to avoid answering the question:
Now the DCCC has pounced with a radio ad going after Tedisco:
"But Jim Tedisco refuses to say whether he supports President Obama's economic policies," the announcer says. "Jim Tedisco even refuses to say whether he supports the stimulus." The ad later expands this theme into Dem candidate's support for executive pay caps: "Scott Murphy supports caps on executive compensation for companies receiving federal bailout money, too. Jim Tedisco? Again, he refuses to say."
Despite the institutional advantage for the Republican in this conservative-leaning district, the DCCC clearly sees an opening here, which the latest Siena Research Institute Poll showing Tedisco under 50% and Murphy just 12% back (with just 39% name recognition) confirms.
This race will serve as a good testing ground for how to run on Obama's agenda even in a conservative district.
While Governor David Paterson has not yet set a date for the NY-20 special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in the House, the local party chairs of the 20th have now chosen their respective candidates (who needs a pesky primary where the "people" decide anyway!?)
Well, NY-20 Dems promised they'd select a nominee before kickoff, and they did. This afternoon, the CD's Dem county chairs nominated venture capitalist Scott Murphy (D) as their standard-bearer in a special election to replace Sen./Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D). Murphy will face Assemb. Min. Leader Jim Tedisco (R). Gov. David Paterson (D) has promised that he'll announce the date of the election soon, and most observers expect a spring contest.
Making the stench of the selection process by which the candidates were chosen even worse, the choice of Murphy -- who has not held elected office before -- appears to have been driven almost entirely by his wealth:
But, given the fact that neither the DCCC nor the NRCC has a lot of money (or, in the case of the national Democrats, inclination) to spend on this race, Murphy's expected ability to self fund came into play.
According to one Democratic chairman, Murphy came to the table with $600,000 in a mix of his own money and contributions, be they pledged or already collected.
Certainly, his ActBlue page has already collected just over $202k from almost 300 donors, a good thing since Michael Steele has already announced his intention to target the seat to fulfill his pledge to start winning again in the Northeast.
"That win will send a powerful signal to the rest of the country...that our game is not up," Steele said of the New York special election to fill the Republican-leaning seat vacated by Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was recently appointed to the Senate.
Steele said he is traveling to New York next week to meet with state officials to map out a game plan for their candidate, State Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco.
While the 20th still has a significant Republican voter registration advantage (195k vs. 125k), upstate New York is trending blue and in fact the district voted for Obama in November. This race will be a real fight but an important one, not only in order to keep our majority at top strength but also to deprive Steele of a victory right out of the gate.
Learn more about Murphy at his website and help bring his average contribution down over at ActBlue.