The mostly left-leaning New England states offer few major challenges for Democrats this year, though a bit of extra money is being spent on a few races in this region. In 2008, although most of the Northeast seemed to be endangered territory for the northern Republican, candidates are surging in districts across Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New England's closest neighbor, New York.
One of the most spectacular upsets may be emerging in New York's 20th Congressional District, the former seat of Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand.
On Oct. 26, the Siena Research Institute of Siena College in Loudonsville, N.Y., shows former Democratic congressional aide Scott Murphy trailing Republican retired Army Col. Chris Gibson by nine percentage points. He had started at a 17-point deficit in a Sept. 17 poll, but has brought in Republican and independent voters, who had previously favored Murphy by a two-to-one margin, by much greater margins.
The Siena College Poll showed that Gibson had brought his favorable ratings up from 22 percent to 46 percent in the past month, significantly decreasing the number of people who didn't have an opinion or didn't know from 65 percent to 24 percent. Murphy's favorable rating dropped from 56 percent to 45 percent.
The poll was conducted by telephone calls to 676 likely voters drawn from registered voter households from Oct. 23 to 26.
The Cook Partisan Index had suggested a mild advantage among Republicans of R+2, but if Murphy was hoping to ride in on Gillibrand's coattails, a bruising campaign that, like many other swing districts, has seen tons of outside money poured into the race. A Conservative PAC tied to Karl Rove, American Crossroads, spent $200,000 on an attack ad against Murphy, according to The New York Times.
Gibson is making no bones about the new numbers, happily reposting over a dozen local and national press releases noting the 9 point lead on his website. Murphy has played it down, pointing to internal polling that suggests he maintains a slim 3 percent lead over his opponent.
Murphy is hoping to change all that with a last minute visit from former President Bill Clinton. President Clinton will campaign with Murphy in Saratoga County on November 1st, though the time and location remain to be decided. The joint rally, advertised on his website, should provide some positive press and help rally supporters, but may not be enough to overcome the current surge from Gibson.