Murphy leads Gibson in 20th CD poll


The first public poll of likely voters in one of the most competitive House races in New York shows Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy of Glens Falls holding a 17-point lead over Republican Chris Gibson of Kinderhook in the upper Hudson Valley’s 20th Congressional District.
Murphy, who won the seat formerly held by Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a special election last year, holds a 54 percent to 37 percent lead over Gibson in a Siena Research Institute survey released Friday.
Even though the general election is more than six weeks away, only 10 percent of the 603 likely voters surveyed Sunday through Tuesday were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The low percentage of undecided voters doesn’t mean people who have expressed a preference won’t change their minds as Election Day nears, according to Steven Greenburg of the Siena poll.
“Only 46 percent said they weren’t going to change their vote,” he said.
The Siena poll shows Murphy’s support is strongest in the northernmost part of the district, which reaches up to Lake Placid. Likely voters in Essex, Washington and Warren counties favored Murphy by 59 percent to 31 percent.
Gibson’s support is strongest at the southern end of the district — in Dutchess, Greene, Otsego, Columbia and Delaware counties — where he trails Murphy by only 5 points, 46 percent to 41 percent. That part of the district also had the largest segment of undecided voters – 13 percent.
Among voters not registered as Democrats or Republicans, Murphy held a sizeable 28-point lead, 58 percent to 30 percent.
Forty-one percent of likely voters around the district cited jobs as the most important issue in the race. Ranking far behind were the budget deficit (19 percent), health care (12 percent), the war in Afghanistan (10 percent), education (8 percent) and taxes (7 percent).
That appears to play to Murphy’s strengths. He is a former entrepreneur and venture capitalist.
Gibson, a retired Army colonel, has touted his leadership experience and knowledge of foreign affairs.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Democrat,” meaning Murphy is favored for re-election, but the election is competitive.
Three other New York Democrats, Rep. Bill Owens in the North Country’s 23rd CD, Rep. Mike McMahon in the Staten Island-part of Brooklyn 13th CD, and Rep. Tim Bishop in eastern Long Island’s 1st CD, are rated the same by Cook.
Elsewhere, the state’s vacant 29th CD seat, formerly occupied by Democrat Eric Massa, is rated as likely Republican. Former Corning mayor Tom Reed, a Republican, is running against Matt Zeller, an Afghanistan war veteran.
The 19th CD in the lower Hudson Valley and the 24th CD in central New York are rated toss-ups. Republican businessman Richard Hanna is trying to unseat Democratic Rep. Mike Arcuri, a former district attorney, in the central New York district. Republican physician Nan Hayworth is challenging Democratic Rep. John Hall in the Hudson Valley.


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