The Democratic incumbent in the race for New York's new 21st Congressional District has a 13-point lead over his Republican challenger, according to a poll released this morning by the Siena Research Institute.
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, leads Watertown businessman Matt Doheny by a margin of 49 to 36 percent, according to the poll. Green Party candidate Don Hassig is polling at 6 percent, and 8 percent of voters remain undecided.
But neither candidate puts much stock in the poll's results.
Rep. Bill Owens, left, and Matt Doheny
(Enterprise flle photos)
Owens' campaign spokesman, James Hannaway, said in an emailed statement that the congressman will "continue listening to voters, and focusing on working across the aisle for common sense job creation solutions.
"After all, the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day," Hannaway said.
"We all know polls are merely snapshots in time," Doheny said in a prepared statement. "Siena was in the field during the Democratic National Convention, so it's laughable to think three nights of wall-to-wall television coverage didn't have a bearing on these numbers. And despite that coverage being overwhelmingly pro-Democrat at all times, my opponent still cannot manage to crack 50 percent.
Doheny also pointed to poll figures in the 2010 race for the 20th Congressional District. A Siena poll released less than seven weeks before the election showed Democratic incumbent Scott Murphy with a 17-point lead over Republican challenger Chris Gibson. With less than two weeks to go, the poll numbers had flipped, and Gibson went on to beat Murphy to take the congressional seat.
"As I've said before, our internal polling shows a much closer congressional race with Mitt Romney prevailing in the presidential contest," Doheny said. "Regardless of what the result is or is not today, I'm still committed to being the hardest working candidate, going out and meeting voters and telling them about my plan to get Washington working for us again."
To date, Doheny's campaign team had not made its polling figures public.
Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a press release that Owens is in a strong position with two months to go before the Nov. 6 election.
"Half of likely voters say they are prepared to re-elect Owens, compared to only 30 percent who say they would prefer someone else," he said. "He's viewed more favorably. By double digit margins, voters think Owens is better than Doheny on education, health care, taxes, Afghanistan, and jobs, by far the most important issue to voters."
The poll also shows that both candidates have some work to do in new portions of the district. Greenberg said the candidates are "unfamiliar" to more than 40 percent of voters in places like Washington and Warren counties, which will become part of the new district when new lines become official in 2013.
Greenberg added that a "sizable majority" of voters in the district side with President Barack Obama when it comes to eliminating tax cuts for people earning more than $250,000. Voters are almost split on the Affordable Care Act, and Obama has only a 5-point edge in the presidential election in the district.
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.