| Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos (9/11-12, likely voters, no trendlines):
John Hall (D-inc): 42
Nan Hayworth (R): 44
John Hall (D-inc): 42
Neil DiCarlo (R): 39
We decided to test this race because we thought it might serve as a helpful bellwether. Dem Rep. John Hall is a sophomore, first elected in 2006 to a district that had long been GOP-held. He sits in a suburban swing district (45% Kerry, 51% Obama) and has a progressive voting record. He's drawn a strong opponent in Nan Hayworth, a Republican with a moderate enough record that could have earned her a serious teabagging, but which she was nonetheless able to avoid. Hayworth has also been a good fundraiser - she's given her campaign half-a-million bucks, but she's also raised more than $700K from individuals. Overall, she's narrowly edged Hall, whose fundraising has proceeded at just 62% of his 2008 pace (to date).
In other words, this contest resembles many others in a number of ways, though in does stand out in certain respects (Hayworth's relative sanity chief among them). And if this race is indeed representative, then it's not looking pretty out there. Yes, on its face, the poll shows things more-or-less tied up, but 42% is not where you want to be if you're an incumbent - especially when your opponent is unknown to 50% of the electorate. Among those who do know her, Hayworth sports a pretty decent 29-21 favorability rating, while Hall is struggling at a weak 39-43. In other words, Hayworth has room to grow, while Hall seems pretty firmly rooted at 42%. (That's why we included Neil DiCarlo, an unknown and generally disliked Some Dude who will likely be turned into paste in today's primary. Hall does no better against him than against Hayworth.)
There's a broader picture here, too. Pollster Tom Jensen elaborates:
[I]ntensity isn't really the issue. We're finding an electorate in NY-19 that supported Barack Obama by a point, not much of a drop from his 3 point win there. ... The problem in NY-19 is that Obama voters have soured on him to a much greater extent than they have nationally. Only 75% of his supporters still approve of the job he's doing and his loss of support is rubbing off on Hall. With the Obama voters who now disapprove of or are ambivalent toward him Nan Hayworth has a 56-28 lead. Nationally our last poll still found 86% of Obama voters approving of him so this is an unusually disenchanted district.
If we're lucky, then this might be another way in which New York's 19th CD differs from others - namely, the fact that Obama is doing 10 points worse here among his own voters than he is nationally. Still, while things look tough for Hall right now, he does have some things going for him. For one, the Democrats at the top of the ballot in NY look set to dominate. For another, he'll also have help from the DCCC (which still, thankfully, has more cash than the NRCC) - though advertising dollars won't go as far on NYC's super-expensive TV stations. And he may yet turn in a strong fundraising quarter.
Obviously, this is just one survey, but be aware that Hall trailed in his own internal polling in 2006 all the way until the election. Those polls nonetheless portended trouble for incumbent Sue Kelly, whom Hall knocked off by a 51-49 margin. If this poll is accurate, then, John Hall also has a very tough row to hoe - and so, it would seem, do Dems in similar districts around the country.