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Poll: Tenney ahead in very close race in 22nd district

Payne Horning
Assemblywoman Claudia Teneny (R-New Hartford) embraces her supporters after winning the GOP primary for New York's 22nd Congressional District.

A new poll finds that Republican Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney is edging out her Democratic and third-party rivals in the race to replace retiring Republican Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) in New York's 22nd Congressional District. The poll from Siena College and Time Warner Cable has Tenney in the lead with 35 percent and Democratic Broome County Legislator Kim Myers close behind with 30 percent. And in a surprising show for a third-party candidate, entrepreneur Martin Babinec is polling at 24 percent.

Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said this is a fluid and competitive race. 

"This is an unusual race," Greenberg said. "In the normal race you're looking for 50 percent plus one. Here, it seems pretty clear that 40 percent appears to be a winning ticket."

Greenberg said Tenney's lead overall and with independents in the poll (36 percent) could likely be attributed to her high name ID from her 2014 GOP primary challenge with Hanna and this year's acrimonious primary. But the controversial Republican is only supported by half of the GOP base and has a negative favorability rating (34 percent favorable to 46 unfavorable).

That has opened the door for Babinec, whose platform falls along conservative viewpoints. He's pulling votes from both Democrats (24 percent) and Republicans (26 percent) equally, but largely from the conservative-leaning voters in those camps.

"From one angle it looks like he's drawing evenly from the Democrats and Republicans and I think that's clearly true," Greenberg said. "But philosophically he's drawing more from the right of center so, maybe some of those conservative Democrats are the ones who are with Babinec."

Babinec said the results are promising for his campaign.

"I am not a spoiler," Babinec said. "I am competitive and can win this race."

Still, both Babinec and Myers have their work cut out for them in raising their name ID. A large number of those polled, 43 percent for Myers and 48 percent for Babinec, did not know who they are. Myers blamed that on the lack of opposition she had in the Democratic primary.

"You have to remember that my opponents both have a lot bigger presence because of the primary that I wasn't in," Myers said. "One of my opponents has been a state assembly person for years. As I get out and I get people to know me and get to present myself, I'm very, very encouraged." 

The margin of error in the poll was 3.8 percent.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.