A new WWNY-7 News/Siena College poll assessing the race for New York’s 21st Congressional District shows Republican Elise Stefanik with a 13-point lead over her two challengers.
Three people are running to replace retiring Democrat Bill Owens. The 21st Congressional District spans more than 16,000 square miles, and includes all or part of 12 counties. The poll released Thursday evening shows Republican Elise Stefanik leading Democrat Aaron Woolf 46 to 33 percent. Green Party Candidate Matt Funiciello has 10 percent and 11 percent of voters are undecided.
The Siena poll’s Steve Greenberg notes that despite Owens’ electoral success in the North Country, the district has a 13-point Republican enrollment advantage — which matches the Republican candidate’s lead. “In this district right now Stefanik has a 13 point lead as a Republican. But in the gubernatorial race in this district Cuomo, the democrat, has a 9 point lead. So clearly there are a lot of swing voters in this district. And what we have in this race is two political newcomers to the district. Neither one has very strong roots in the North Country. We’re in the early stages of this campaign and I expect that voters over the course of the next few weeks are going to learn a lot more about the candidates. I would say this is a very fluid race at this point.”
Stefanik campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar says the poll reflects growing enthusiasm for the candidate, a former Bush White House aide and first-time office seeker. “It certainly reaffirms that Elise Stefanik and her bipartisan message for the future of the district is going to resonate with voters across the board. The more voters get to meet Elise Stefanik the more they’re going to trust her with their votes in November.”
Democrat Aaron Woolf, a filmmaker, was unavailable for comment, but the campaign responded in a statement, saying: “I will continue to work hard to talk with as many voters as I can about ways we can work together to create jobs, grow the middle class, and boost the North Country’s economy. Our momentum is building.”
Pollster Greenberg noted that the poll also shows that 10 percent support Green candidate Matt Funiciello. “That’s a big number. Generally speaking, third party candidates don’t hit double digits. Generally speaking a Green Party candidate is more likely to be taking votes away from a democrat than they are from a republican.”
Funiciello expects his numbers to grow as more people become familiar with him. “What I find most interesting about the poll results is not just the fact that we’re already in double digits. But one of the things I was told by another reporter is that 18 percent knew my name. If I’ve only got 18 percent aware of who I am, and over half of them are voting for me, imagine what’s going to happen when my name recognition is 70 percent. That’s what the televised debates can do. So we’re incredibly excited. Because I think this really does prove that this isn’t pie-in-the-sky. We really have a very good chance to win this race.”
The Siena Polling Institute also released a poll assessing the 19th Congressional District race. Republican incumbent Chris Gibson is leading Democratic challenger Sean Eldridge 57 to 33 percent, a 24-point lead. Ten percent of voters are undecided.