Authors: Joshua Cohan
(NEW YORK) -- A poll out Wednesday shows Democrats have an unexpected fight on their hands in next month’s special election for Anthony Weiner’s congressional seat in Brooklyn and Queens.
The Democrat, David Weprin, leads Republican Robert Turner by just six points, 48 percent to 42 percent, in the Siena Research Institute poll.
Turner ran surprisingly well against Weiner in 2010 and has been endorsed by former Democratic Mayor Ed Koch, who says Turner would be the better congressman for Israel -- no small matter given the number of Jewish voters in the district.
The surprise is, this is a race Democrats had expected to win easily. Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one in the district, and the Weprin name is well-known: he’s a state assemblyman and his father was the Assembly speaker. Weprin also has collected a string of powerhouse endorsements, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York’s two Democratic senators. A loss would be a psychological blow to the Democrats nationally, already reeling from President Obama's low job approval ratings, and a recent failed attempt to try to reverse a key Republican House majority in Wisconsin.
Perhaps Weprin’s political ties -- a plus in any other year -- are a drag this time around, given the toxic political environment for so-called "establishment" candidates. Turner has gone out of his way to portray Weprin as a career politician who would be part of the problem in Washington. Weprin paints Turner as a Tea Partier. But given the Wisconsin situation -- and the results of the Tea Party-driven midterm election results in the House last November, however, that might be a weak counterpunch.
Siena Institute spokesman Steven Greenberg said, "Five weeks until Election Day, and this special election is a wide open race with both candidates trying to become more known to the voters of the district and earn their support.”
"With a low turnout expected and limited media exposure in the nation’s most expensive media market, the test of both campaigns will be to mount strong voter identification efforts and effective get-out-the vote operations. The campaign that does a better job on those crucial tasks will likely produce a victory for their candidate."
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points.
The election will be held Sept. 13.
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