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NY-23: GOP Candidate Leads in Three-Way Race

The new poll from the Siena Research Institute has Dede Scozzafava, a liberal Republican state assemblywoman, leading the race to replace former Rep. John McHugh (who became Secretary of the Army last month). Scozzafava leads with 35 percent support. Democrat Bill Owens, a first-time candidate, trails with 28 percent support. Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate who has been endorsed by the Club for Growth, trails with 16 percent.

“Clearly, the presence of a third candidate,” pollster Steven Greenberg in the poll’s press release, “points to the fact that the winner of the race will likely not win with a majority of the votes cast, but rather a plurality.”

It’s a hard race to get a read on. It should be favorable terrain for Democrats: President Obama has a 55 percent approval rating in the district, which he carried last year with 52 percent of the vote over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). And the presence of Hoffman is a clear problem for Scozzafava. While he’s pulling 22 percent of the Republican vote from Scozzafava, he’s only pulling 6 percent of the Democratic vote from Owens. But Scozzafava’s liberal stances on social issues and record of supporting tax increases are helping her appeal to Democrats, while Owens, who has not even promised to support a public option in the health care bill, is trying to appeal to Republicans.

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