Poll Shows Weprin Holding Slight Edge Over Turner

Poll Shows Weprin Holding Slight Edge Over Turner

A Sienna poll regarding the special election to replace ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released on Wednesday shows Democrat David Weprin holding a slim 48-42 edge over Republican Bob Turner.

The poll is a great insight into how likely voters view the race and specific issues, and whether the two candidates’ campaign strategies have been working.

“Democrat Weprin holds a small six-point lead over Republican Turner, in a district where there are more than three times as many Democrats as Republicans,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

The poll breaks down voters by demographics and key issues like the recent vote to raise the federal debt ceiling and avoid a default of U.S. loans.

“Although voters in the 9th [congressional district] were unrepresented in the House when the vote was taken to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, by a two-to-one margin they would have wanted their representative to vote in favor of the bill,” Greenberg said.

Turner was adamant that he supported the debt ceiling measures and would have voted in favor of the bill. “This agreement is far from perfect, but it will protect Social Security and Medicare and prevent default on our debt, which would have damaged this weak economy even more,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Weprin was more critical of the plan. “As I’ve said over and over again, I won’t support any plans that puts Medicare and Social Security at risk, and this egregiously unfair debt plan could still cut these vital programs,” he said.

It’s no coincidence that both candidates mentioned Medicare and Social Security. The Siena poll found that 72 percent of likely voters are opposed to cuts to entitlement programs. Both men believe the programs should be saved, but offer diametrically opposed viewpoints to keep funds in the programs.

Weprin, like many other Democrats, believe increased tax revenues are needed—he railed against Republicans forcing cuts “on the backs of seniors” while giving the wealthiest Americans tax breaks—while Turner has consistently said the federal health care bill—Obamacare—is what’s truly hurting Medicare and sinking the federal budget.

According to the poll, both tactics have some traction, but Weprin’s views are unsurprisingly more favorable in the heavily Democratic district. Approximately 65 percent of people favored raising taxes on those who earn at least $250,000. The district is more split on the federal health care plan with 47 percent supporting the bill.

But the top issue for most voters was job creation. Turner, as a former businessman, has been touting his experience at creating jobs. Weprin has promoted his financial acumen and as the former Chair of the City Council Finance Committee, the ability to pass reasonable budgets that help job creation and the economy.

Turner, after a ringing endorsement from former Democratic Mayor Ed Koch, focused his efforts on capturing the Jewish vote. Koch, an Orthodox Jew, said voters should send Turner to Washington D.C. to send a message to President Barack Obama that his policies towards Israel are unacceptable. The poll also found that endorsements from big names like Koch are very helpful candidates.

On Tuesday, after the State Department said it is “deeply concerned” about Israel’s plan to build a housing development in eastern Jerusalem, Turner released a statement blasting the President: “There goes President Obama again today, on the saddest day of the Hebrew Calendar [Tuesday, August 9, was Tisha B’av when the destruction of temples in Israel are commemorated], finding—as he always does—some way to beat up on Israel. This administration and the Democratic party never fail to find a way to slam our closest ally in the Middle East.”

However, the poll finds that Jewish voters still are giving a huge edge to Weprin, who is an Orthodox Jew. On the other hand, Turner, who is Catholic, holds a similarly big lead with Catholic voters.

Both candidates are now finding ways to spin the poll results.

“This poll simply confirms what we already know—that David Weprin is winning this election because New Yorkers know they can trust him to protect Medicare and Social Security and reform the tax code to make millionaires and Big Oil pay their fair share,” Weprin campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Kerr said. “Voters will reject Bob Turner because he supports a plan that will end Medicare as we know it, so he can extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and protect tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas.”

Turner’s statement argued that the poll was an indication that voters wanted a change from the Democratic Party base that has ruled the district.

“This survey reflects exactly what I am hearing on the streets of Queens and Brooklyn. Economic recovery and job growth are what matter to voters of all parties. They want representatives in Congress with real-world business experience, not more career politicians,” Turner said. “I am extremely grateful for the support I am receiving from independents and Democrats, including former Mayor Ed Koch, and I will work even harder in the next five weeks to lay out for them my pro-job growth agenda and to earn their trust.”

Whichever way voters decide to see it, the Siena poll shows this race can be much closer than anticipated—Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one in the district—thanks to surprising support from Democratic voters for Turner.

“In a district with far more Democrats than Republicans, Turner is garnering the support of nearly one-third of Democrats. He will have to do at least that well on Election Day to have a chance to win….” pollster Greenberg said. “This figures to be an interesting five weeks, so stay tuned.”


by Eric Yun


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