Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate in New York’s special House election, roiled campaign waters this weekend by dropping out of the race and then a day later endorsing Democratic candidate Bill Owens over Conservative Party nominee Dough Hoffman.
White House counselor Valerie Jarrett acknowledged to ABC News yesterday that the president’s political team was working on getting Ms. Scozzafava to support Mr. Owens. “We would love to have, of course, her support,” she said. I’m told White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is crowing that he has now positioned Democrats to win enough moderate voters to take the GOP-held seat.
Not so fast. A new survey by Public Policy Polling, a firm that largely has Democratic clients, finds that Mr. Hoffman now holds a 51% to 34% lead over the Democrat Mr. Owens, with Ms. Scozzafava, whose name still appears on the ballot, getting 13%. The poll broke down its interviewees into three groups.
In the first group, who were questioned before voters learned Ms. Scozzafava was dropping out, Mr. Hoffman had an 18-point lead over Mr. Owens. After it was learned she had left the race, the second group gave Mr. Hoffman a 17-point lead. After the Scozzafava endorsement of Mr. Owens, those voters who were informed of the news broke down as follows: Hoffman 52%, Owens 38% and Scozzafava 7%.
PPP pollster Tom Jensen says the results may be influenced by the fact that “Republican voters also appear to be considerably more energized about the election than Democrats.” He notes that in 2008, Barack Obama carried the district, which borders Canada, by five points.
Tomorrow’s pool of likely voters, however, appears to be different. Respondents in the PPP poll said that last year they backed John McCain by 51% to 43%. In another ominous sign for Mr. Emanuel, only 39% of likely voters in New York’s 23rd District approve of Mr. Obama’s job performance.
‘John Fund is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal’