Siena poll: Gibson leads Murphy by 9 points

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Republican Chris Gibson has erased the 17-point deficit he held in mid-September and now leads freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy by 9 points in the race the upper Hudson Valley’s 20th Congressional District seat, according to a Siena Research Institute poll released this morning.
Gibson’s 51 to 42 percent lead among likely voters in the Siena poll validates a private poll his campaign released last week showing him with a small lead over Murphy.
The 20th CD race has long been considered one of the key contests for Republicans in their effort to pick up at least 39 seats nationwide to regain majority control of the House. Up to eight House seats in New York are considered by Republicans as possible pickups.
Former President Bill Clinton plans to campaign with Murphy Monday as part of the final get-out-the-vote drive the day before the election.
Clinton also plans to attend a rally Friday evening in Utica for embattled Democratic Rep. Mike Arcuri, who is facing a strong challenge from construction company owner Richard Hanna.
And on Saturday Clinton will travel to an electrical workers union hall in Harriman to join Democratic Rep. John Hall of Dover, who is being challenged by Republican Nan Hayworth, an ophthalmologist from northern Westchester County.
Siena’s previous poll of likely voters in the 20th district – which stretches from Lake Placid south to part of Dutchess County – found the incumbent Democrat with a commanding 54 percent to 37 percent lead.
Murphy, a venture capital investor from Glens Falls, won a special election for the seat by only 726 votes in March of last year after the seat was vacated by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand’s appointment to the Senate.
However, last month’s Siena poll also found 65 percent of likely voters didn’t know Gibson, a retired Army colonel from Kinderhook who is the Republican challenger. That’s changed over the last four weeks with relentless advertising by both campaigns as well as outside advocacy groups.
Only 24 percent of likely voters in the new poll indicated they didn’t have an opinion of Gibson. And a plurality of 46 percent viewed him favorably compared to 30 percent who held an unfavorable opinion.
Gillibrand remains popular in the district, with a 61 percent to 34 percent, favorable-unfavorable rating, virtually unchanged from last month.
But President Barack Obama’s favorability rating has plummeted 10 points, from 51 to 41 percent, over the last month among like voters in the district.
The Siena survey of 676 likely voters was conducted Saturday through Monday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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