Poll: Republican leads in NY special election to replace Rep. Weiner

Republican Bob Turner leads Democrat David Weprin by a 6-point margin just days ahead of their election to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), according to a nonpartisan poll released Friday by Siena University.

Turner pulls 50 percent of the vote to Weprins 44 percent, according to the poll, which was conducted Sept. 6-8. This is the first time Turner has led in any publicly available poll.

A Turner win would be a black eye for Democrats in the Queens- and Brooklyn-based district.

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The poll shows that 54 percent of voters in the district have an unfavorable impression of President Obama, while just 43 percent have a favorable impression of him. This is a big reversal of Obamas numbers from 2008, when he took 55 percent of the districts vote, and a plunge from the 67 percent then-Vice President Al Gore (D) took in the district in the 2000 presidential election.

Part of Weprins problem stems from the large Orthodox Jewish community in the district, which has trended Republican over the last decade but had strongly supported Weiner until his ethics troubles earlier this year. Just 51 percent of all Jews (including non-Orthodox Jews) in the poll said they will vote for Weprin, who is himself an Orthodox Jew, while 45 percent said they will back Turner. Obama is as unpopular among Jews in the district as he is in the district as a whole, with 54 percent holding an unfavorable opinion of him.

Democrats had hoped Weprin would be able to stroll to victory, but Turner has held his own. Weprin has sought to distance himself from Obama in the race, indicating that the president can be a double-edged sword even in Democratic-leaning districts.

Turner, who is Catholic, has been endorsed by hawkish Jewish Democrats, including former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), The New York Times and The Jewish Press have endorsed Weprin.

There may not be much space for Weprin to recover before Tuesdays election: Seventy-nine percent of voters in the poll said they are absolutely certain” they know whom they will support, while another 17 percent are fairly certain.

The telephone poll of 886 voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.

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