Race heats up in NY 20

RACE HEATS UP IN NY 20…. The closely watched special election in New York’s 20th district, in the race to fill the House vacancy left by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, is getting increasingly interesting. Take a look at this new Siena poll (pdf), published this morning.

As the special election in the 20th C.D. enters the final weekend, Democrat Scott Murphy has reversed a four-point deficit and turned it into a four-point lead over Republican Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco. Murphy leads 47-43 percent, having trailed two weeks ago by a 45-41 percent margin, according to a new Siena (College) Research Institute poll of likely voters. Tedisco’s campaign is viewed by voters as more negative by a 44-25 percent margin, while Murphy’s campaign is seen as more positive. Regardless of who they are supporting, by a 45-35 percent margin, voters think Tedisco will win the election.

“While the percentage of likely voters supporting Murphy has risen about three points per week for the last four weeks, the percentage supporting Tedisco has dropped three points. In the last four weeks, Murphy turned a 12-point deficit into a four-point lead,” said Steven Greenberg, spokesman for the Siena New York Poll.

Every couple of weeks, it seems Tedisco’s lead has shrunk just a little more, but this is Murphy’s first lead.

The race certainly has multiple angles, but it’s hard not to wonder if Tedisco’s quick reversal on Rush Limbaugh criticism was one of those costly errors the candidate would love to take back. It also probably didn’t help that Tedisco refused to take a position on the stimulus package, only to denounce it a month after it passed.

Obviously, it’s still a very close contest, and even if the Siena poll is right, neither candidate is above 50%. Keep an eye on the significance of the White House’s efforts in the district, with Obama having endorsed Murphy this week, Joe Biden recording a radio ad for the Democrat yesterday, and a new televised presidential endorsement set to air.

Also remember, there was quite a bit of speculation recently about whether RNC Chairman Michael Steele will be able to keep his job if Republicans lose this race. While Tedisco might still eke out a win here, it’s something else to keep an eye on.