NEW YORK (JTA) — A new poll shows Republican Bob Turner with an edge over Democrat David Weprin in the congressional race to succeed disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Turner leads Weprin by a margin of 50 percent to 44 percent, a Siena College survey found. The poll, conducted Sept. 6-8, shows Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, leading Turner among Jewish voters by 51 percent to 45 percent.
The two are facing off in a Sept. 13 special election in a heavily Jewish New York congressional district spanning parts of Queens and Brooklyn. The race is being closely watched nationally as a bellwether for how the Democratic Party of President Obama is faring.
Overall, momentum appears to be shifting toward Turner. A Siena College poll in early August had shown Weprin ahead by 6 percentage points, with a much wider lead among Jewish voters than he currently enjoys.
On Sept. 8, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that it would spend $500,000 to air advertisements supporting Weprin in the Democratic-dominated district, Politico reported.
The Jewish vote has loomed large in media coverage of the race. Weprin, a state assemblyman, has been criticized by some within the Orthodox community for his vote to legalize same-sex marriage. Fellow Democratic state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn and has blasted Weprin on the issue, endorsed Turner on Sept. 7.
The same day, The Jewish Press, a prominent Brooklyn-based newspaper serving the Orthodox community, endorsed Weprin, citing his support for social welfare programs and his opponent’s calls for government spending cuts.
Previously, New York City’s former mayor, Ed Koch, a Democrat, had urged voters to support Turner in order to send a rebuke to Obama for the president’s policies toward Israel. Weprin himself has criticized Obama’s policies toward Israel.
The latest poll found that only 42 percent of the district’s Jewish voters had a favorable opinion of Obama, while 54 percent viewed the president unfavorably.
Sixteen percent of the district’s Jewish voters said that a candidate’s Israel stance would be the most important factor in determining their vote, roughly half the proportion (30 percent) who identified the candidate’s position on the economic recovery as their key issue and slightly fewer than the proportion (20 percent) who chose Social Security, Medicare and other so-called entitlement programs as the top factor.