We now have the final Siena poll out for the NY-23 special election. Like last night’s PPP poll, it has Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman in the lead. But by a far smaller margin. PPP had a 16 or 17 point margin, depending on whether Dede Scozzafava (the regular GOP nominee who has now left the race) is included. Siena has it at Hoffman 41%, Owens 36% with fully 18% undecided.
As I noted last night, much of the issue here is that PPP is assuming, based on their survey work, a much more GOP-leaning electorate than Siena seems to be. The question is whether they’re right.
If Siena has the better handle on this race, then it really is anyone’s game. Because presumably that very high number of undecideds is made up overwhelmingly of former Scazzofava voters who are now uncertain about who to support. Remember, Scazzofava endorsed Owens yesterday afternoon.
There are two dynamics to keep in mind in this race. The first is that by normal standards Hoffman is way to right-wing for this district. It’s a classic — perhaps one of the few remaining — Rockefeller Republican districts in NY. It had a very moderate Republican representing it for years. And it narrowly went for Obama last year.
On the other hand, very few people vote in off-year special elections. Very few. Even in cases like this where there’s been a lot of controversy over the race. And that puts a heavy premium on enthusiasm and intensity. It’s very hard to figure that hard right anti-Obama forces, albeit a relatively small part of the overall electorate, aren’t leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else right now in wanting to get a crack at the ballot box.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.