Bill Owens (D) 35%Not sure what to make of this poll, since the methodology -- screening for "likely voters," etc. -- is opaque. Research 2000 is a reputable firm, and there is no reason to suspect any particular bias. However, let me make a few quick points:
Dede Scozzafava (R) 30%
Doug Hoffman (Cons.) 23%
- The polling period was Monday through Wednesday, before Dick Armey came in Thursday to campaign for Hoffman, before the Sarah Palin endorsement, before the Glenn Beck radio interview, before the Neil Cavuto TV interview, etc.
- This will be a difficult race to poll. It's a stand-alone special election in an off-off-year, and very low turnout is to be expected. So it's a get-out-the-vote battle and the campaign with the most energy and enthusiasm has a built-in advantage.
- Remember that this district has routinely gone 65% or more Republican even in bad GOP years like 2006 and 2008. If Owens is at 35%, that's merely the standard Democratic vote in NY23. The big question is whether undecided Republicans break toward Scozzafava or Hoffman.
- Scozzafava has the highest negative ratings (35%) of any of the three candidates -- Owens negatives are 24% and Hoffman's are 19%. Which is to say, Scozzafava has nowhere to go but down.
- Because Research 2000 has not polled HY23 before, we can't compare numbers to identify a trend. The strong gain for Hoffamn between the first Siena poll (ending Sept. 30) and the second (Oct. 13) is the best trend indication. A third Sienna poll (conducted this coming Monday and Tuesday) will be out on Thursday. The Quinnipiac poll is also due soon.
Because I just got off the road -- drove all night to get home -- I'm kind of fazed and need to get some sleep. But I will caution people about judging this campaign and this district through the media lens. The 23rd district is very, very rural -- East Kentucky rural.
Pollsters always emphasize that a poll is a "snapshot." Opinion trends are dynamic, not static, and it's a mistake to think of a poll taken three weeks before Election Day as a prediction of the final outcome.
UPDATE: Melissa Clouthier has a new Pajamas Media column about Sarah Palin's Hoffman endorsement.