A week before Election Day, the Democratic challenger in the 19th Congressional District has narrowed the gap with the Republican incumbent, according to a new poll.
U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, is leading Ulster County Democrat Julian Schreibman by 5 percentage points, according to the poll released Tuesday by the Siena Research Institute. Those numbers indicate the race is much tighter than it was last month, when Gibson had a comfortable 16 percentage-point lead.
In every demographic polled by Siena, Schreibman either gained ground on Gibson or took the lead. Among independent voters, Gibson’s lead went from 16 percentage points to 2 points. Schreibman also turned a 7 percentage point deficit among women to a 2 percentage point lead, which could be a result of advertisements in the race focusing on reproductive health issues.
“Two years ago, then-challenger Gibson saw an early double-digit deficit turn into a comfortable 10 point win,” noted Siena pollster Steve Greenberg in a statement. “Now, incumbent Gibson has seen an early double-digit lead turn into a narrow 5 point lead.”
Greenberg added that the presidential race could also have an impact.
President Barack Obama has a comfortable lead over Mitt Romney, 50 percent to 42 percent in the district, which could benefit Democrats further down the ticket, like Schreibman.
In Gibson’s favor, though, is the Republican enrollment edge. There are about 421,000 registered voters in the district, with about 141,000 Republicans and 130,000 Democrats; independent and minor parties make up the remainder. This is less of an advantage than in Gibson’s old district, where Republicans outnumbered Democrat by a ratio of 3-2.
This year’s redistricting also erased Gibson’s incumbency advantage in parts of the district that he doesn’t currently represent.
“Gibson maintains a large 15 point lead among those likely voters whom he represents in the current 20th Congressional District, although that’s down from 28 points previously,” Greenberg said. “Schreibman had previously trailed by 5 points among voters who the congressman does not currently represent, and now has a thin [2 point] edge.”
The 19th Congressional District now includes parts of Montgomery, Schoharie and Rensselaer counties.
Schreibman’s personal ratings are not a good sign, though, as more voters don’t have an opinion on him or view him in a negative light than view him positively. This is a sharp contrast to Gibson, who has a comparable unfavorable rating, but has a positive rating that dwarfs Schreibman’s.
“Gibson has maintained a 15 [point] net positive favorable rating,” noted Greenberg.