Third-party candidate leading in New York race

Doug Hoffman gets a boost from Republican Dede Scozzafava's exit

Published November 2, 2009 3:45PM (EST)

With conservative activists having forced Republican Dede Scozzafava from the congressional special election being held tomorrow in upstate New York, the race is suddenly a big national story. And the tea partiers have even more reason to be celebrating now, as it looks as if their chosen candidate -- independent Doug Hoffman -- may be poised for victory.

A new poll, conducted by Siena Research Institute, shows Hoffman leading Democrat Bill Owens, 41-36. Six percent of respondents said they're still supporting Scozzafava, who will be on the ballot despite her decision to drop out.

That doesn't mean Hoffman has the race locked up, though. There are a couple positive signs in this poll for Owens: First of all, the number of undecideds has skyrocketed, up to 18 percent. And the Democrat is currently leading among independents; 43 percent of them say they'll vote for Ownes, compared to 37 percent for Hoffman.

It's hard to make any real predictions, though. The problem with polling any race like this is that it's damn near impossible to accurately predict the turnout, and that makes it quite difficult to construct a viable model of the electorate to use as a basis for polling.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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