---- — PLATTSBURGH — Incumbent Congressman Bill Owens has a double-digit lead over opponent Matt Doheny in an early poll.
The poll, conducted by Siena College, showed Owens, a Democrat, leading the Republican Doheny by a margin of 49 to 36 percent, with 6 percent favoring Green Party candidate Donald Hassig.
Eight percent of respondents were unsure, and 1 percent said they were not voting.
The poll was conducted Sept. 4, 5 and 6 among 638 likely voters in the 21st District, which covers 12 counties from Lake Ontario in the west to Lake Champlain in the east.
Doheny’s camp downplayed the numbers.
“We all know polls are merely snapshots in time,” the candidate said in a news release.
“Siena was in the field during the Democratic National Convention, so it’s laughable to think three nights of wall-to-wall television coverage didn’t have a bearing on these numbers. And despite that coverage being overwhelmingly pro-Democrat at all times, my opponent still cannot manage to crack 50 percent.”
Doheny, an investor from Watertown, is trying to unseat Owens, a Plattsburgh attorney, for the second time. Doheny lost a close race in 2010, which also featured Douglas Hoffman on the Conservative Party line. Hoffman, although he did not campaign after losing a Republican primary to Doheny, still got 6 percent of the vote.
Along with the Republican line, Doheny has the Conservative and Independence party lines this time.
The district was redrawn after the 2010 U.S. Census, morphing from the 23rd to the 21st.
In the Siena poll, Doheny did have a lead in the newest part of the district, which includes Fulton, Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties. In that region, he led with 41 to 37 percent over Owens.
Hassig had 9 percent, and 12 percent were unsure in that area.
In Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and Herkimer counties, Owens led 54 to 32 percent, with 5 percent for Hassig. Nine percent were unsure.
In Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, Owens had an even wider advantage of 60 to 32 percent, with 4 percent for Hassig and 2 percent uncertain.
Doheny said that Siena’s poll two years ago at this time in the 20th District election showed Republican Chris Gibson down 17 points to a Democrat, yet Gibson went on to win in November by nine points.
“As I’ve said before, our internal polling shows a much closer congressional race, with Mitt Romney prevailing in the presidential contest,” Doheny said.
“Regardless of what the result is or is not today, I’m still committed to being the hardest-working candidate, going out and meeting voters and telling them about my plan to get Washington working for us again.”
Those surveyed in the poll said they supported President Barack Obama’s health-care plan, which was enacted two years ago, by a margin of 50 percent, with 47 percent in favor of repealing the law.
Also, 59 percent of would-be voters favored eliminating President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for those making more than $250,000, as Obama has proposed, with 37 percent wanting to keep the cuts.
The voters, by 46 to 32 percent, favored the president’s position on Medicare over Romney’s plan.
Owens’s campaign said the only poll they are concerned about is on Election Day.
“We’ll continue listening to voters and focusing on working across the aisle for common-sense job-creation solutions,” campaign spokesman James Hannaway said.
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