Even though he is no longer actively in the race for New York’s 23rd Congressional seat, Conservative Doug Hoffman remains a key player in the outcome, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Siena Research Institute.
The poll sampled 607 likely voters in the district and found that if voters are aware that Hoffman has suspended his campaign, Democratic incumbent Bill Owens clings to a slim 44 to 39 percent lead over Republican Matt Doheny – just one point from being within the standard error. But if voters aren’t told of Hoffman’s post-primary concession, the Democratic incumbent’s lead balloons to 11 percent.
Owens also holds a 47 to 32 percent lead among the always-important independent voting block. His strongest lead is in Doheny’s backyard of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, where he holds a commanding 53 to 33 percent advantage -- even after Hoffman is removed from the equation.
While the poll found that Owens scored better than Doheny on issues like jobs, healthcare and the Afghan War, voters prefer the Republican challenger when it comes to taxes and the federal deficit.
46 percent of those polled held a favorable opinion of Owens, while only 36 percent hold a favorable opinion of Doheny.
A sure plus for Doheny, 50 percent of those polled want the healthcare reform bill repealed. In general, 45 percent would prefer to vote for someone else, other than Owens.
But 30 percent of those polled said they don’t know enough about Doheny to have an opinion of him.
Election Day is November 2.