The steady move toward panic for Democrats in Tuesday’s NY-09 special election coming from some poor poll numbers leading to a $500,000 TV buy by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee seems to be well placed: a new Public Policy Polling (D) survey of the district shows they have every reason to be concerned.
Retired cable television executive and Republican candidate Bob Turner is at 47 percent in the PPP poll, against 41 percent for Democratic New York State Assemblyman David Weprin with the election only two days away. Socialist Workers Party candidate Christopher Hoeppner gets 4 percent of the vote. The New York City District of former Rep. Anthony Weiner has been solidly Democratic for decades, and should Turner win he would be the first Republican since 1923 to occupy the seat. The race has seen Weprin falter as Turner has sought to capitalize on extreme voter dissatisfaction with Washington.
To determine just how upset NY-09 voters are with government at the moment, PPP asked a series of questions about Congress, the president and direction of the country. President Obama logged only a 31 percent approval rating in the district versus 56 percent disapproval, and Congressional Republicans registered the same approval with 51 percent against. When PPP asked which of those two choices respondents had more faith in to lead the country at the moment, voters in this Democratic district picked the GOP by a slim margin, 44 percent to President Obama’s 42. That frustration with Obama translates into success for Turner within the poll: 23 percent of those who voted for the president in 2008 said they will vote for Turner on Tuesday.
The new poll also confirms what a Siena survey showed last week, that Weprin is getting crushed among independent voters and is losing a healthy number of Democrats. In fact, the PPP numbers show him only holding on to 58 percent of his own party, along with only 26 percent of independents, which is actually smaller than the amount of Dems who say they will go for Turner, 29. Turner also gets the support of 83 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of independents.
Weprin still maintains a positive favorability rating, which is not to say his campaign has been perfect, but it further emphasizes the drag that national issues are putting on the Democrat. “If Dems lose this race blaming it on Weprin is an excuse and ignores the bigger issues,” PPP Pollster Tom Jensen tweeted before the release of the numbers. He also pointed to a finding that “37% in NY-9 say Israel ‘very important’ to their votes. They support Turner over Weprin 71-22.” Siena pollster Stan Greenberg was asked about the “Israel effect” on Friday but brushed aside the issue, saying “I don’t see it at all.”
The PPP poll used 646 automated telephone interviews with registered voters in New York’s 9th Congressional District conducted from September 8th to the 11th. It has a sampling error of 3.8 percent.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.