The two candidates running for the North Country's congressional seat are in a statistical tie, according to the latest poll from Siena College. Republican Matt Doheny trailed incumbent Democrat Bill Owens by 13 points in Siena's last poll seven weeks ago. Owens now leads by just one point in the poll released today, which showed the Democrat receiving 44 percent support, to Doheny's 43 percent.
The biggest shift in the race seems to come from independent voters. In the last Siena poll, Owens held a 30 point lead over Doheny among independents. In the latest poll, Owens now trails Doheny among independents by two percent.
The district is strongly Republican, with registered GOP voters outnumbering democrats by 15 percent. So Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg says the change among independent voters is what's key to the change in the race.
"For a Democrat to carry this district, he or she has to do one or both of two things. One is either win independents by a significant margin. Or two, cut in to the Republican support and pick up a lot of Republican voters," said Greenberg. "In the September Siena poll, Bill Owens was doing both of those things, and that's why we saw him with a double digit lead. Now, he's not winning independents, in fact, independents are virtually evenly divided."
Greenberg says the poll showed Owens is getting the support of 22 percent of republican voters, which he says is why the race is so close. Nine percent of those polled are still undecided.
Green Party candidate Donald Hassig got four percent in the poll. Greenberg said that third party candidates traditionally receive fewer votes on Election Day, than they do in polls. But, he cautioned that in a race this tight, drawing even one or two percent of the vote from the major party candidates can make a difference.