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Scozzafava Shakes Up the Race?

7:58 AM, Nov 2, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Watertown, N.Y.
What does Dede Scozzafava's endorsement of Bill Owens mean? Not much, according to Republicans in the 23rd congressional district. They argue that it will be difficult for Scozzafava to deliver her diminishing share of the vote to the Democrat in the race. In the state assembly, Scozzafava represents only parts of three of the congressional district's eleven counties, and a number of local GOP politicians (including the mayor of Watertown, the district's largest city) have endorsed conservative Doug Hoffman.

Hoffman has also won the endorsements of New York's most well-known Republicans, whose moderate records may appeal to some of Scozzafava's supporters. New York governor George Pataki campaigned in the district yesterday with Hoffman, and Rudy Giuliani released a statement backing Hoffman just hours after Scozzafava endorsed the Democrat yesterday. "On Tuesday, the voters of the North Country have a very clear choice when they cast their vote for Congress. It's a choice between a tax and spend Nancy Pelosi Democrat and a common-sense conservative Republican named Doug Hoffman," Giuliani said in a statement released by the Hoffman campaign. "On election day, please cast your vote for Doug Hoffman; he's the type of Congressman America needs." According to the Hoffman campaign, Giuliani has recorded a robocall backing Hoffman as well.

So who's going to win tomorrow? If this poll by Public Policy Polling is to be believed, Hoffman should pull it out. The poll shows Hoffman leading Owens 54 percent to 38 percent in a two-man race and 51 percent to 34 percent in a three-way race with Scozzafava (whose name will still appear on the ballot). The poll should be taken with a few grains of salt. The Siena poll released on Saturday showed Owens and Hoffman in a dead heat, Public Policy Polling has shown Republicans overperforming, and it's very difficult to predict voter turnout in a special election.

And, of course, Joe Biden's in town for an Owens rally. Anything could happen.