|NY26 Gets Electricity Back, But Democrat Davis Does Not Get Lead Back: In an election for U.S. House of Representatives in New York's 26th Congressional District today, 10/26/06, 12 days to Election Day, incumbent Republican Tom Reynolds narrowly fends off a strong challenge from Democrat Jack Davis, according to a SurveyUSA poll of 411 Likely Voters conducted exclusively for WGRZ-TV Buffalo. Reynolds 50%, Davis 45%.
Context is needed to make sense of the numbers. A SurveyUSA poll released 9/28/06 showed Democrat Davis within 2 points of incumbent Republican Reynolds, then thought to be safe for re-election. On 9/29/06, Mark Foley resigned from Congress, and Reynolds was connected to the story. On 10/5/06, a SurveyUSA poll showed the Democrat Davis up by 5 points-- the first poll, by any polling outfit, to show Republicans in danger of losing the House seat. Polls by others subsequently showed Davis up by double-digits.
On 10/19/06, SurveyUSA released its first poll following the Foley resignation, and SurveyUSA showed Republican Reynolds back in front, though by only 3 points, and within the survey's margin of sampling error. SurveyUSA noted that some portions of the 26th District were without electricity during the field period for the 10/19 survey, as a result of a snowstorm on 10/12/06. Today's poll is the first since electricity, and phone service, have been restored to all parts of the District.
What has happened? In Erie County, where Davis led by 12 points on 10/5 and by 11 points on 10/19, the contest is now tied. 36% of likely voters come from Erie County. Many explanations are possible, but one is: during the field period for this survey, the Federal Government declared Western NY a disaster area and awarded $95 million in aid to a region Reynolds represents. Also during the field period, Reynolds testified before the House Ethics Committee.
Reynolds has gained ground among male voters. Reynolds has gained ground among lower-income voters. 72% of Republicans vote Republican. 72% of Democrats vote Democrat. Davis is losing ground among Independents but still leads 6:5. Contest should still be seen as fluid. SurveyUSA does not foresee either candidate winning in a rout. This contest is a rematch of the 2004 election, when Reynolds, who was first elected to Congress in 1998, defeated Davis 56% to 44%.