Koch credited Turner's support for Israel as one of the key reasons for his endorsement, and the candidate has been hammering Weprin -- and President Obama -- on what he views as their tepid support for the Jewish state. The poll, however, shows Jewish voters are siding heavily with Weprin, who leads, 56 percent to 35 percent. Catholic voters, on the other hand, line up largely behind Turner, 55 percent to 37 percent.
Amazingly, Koch's sky-high favorability rating is equal to that of wildly popular Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But current Mayor Michael Bloomberg is underwater (44 percent favorable, 53 percent unfavorable), as is House Speaker John Boehner (32 percent favorable, 42 percent unfavorable).
Obama is also struggling among likely voters in the special election, underscoring the stiff headwinds that face the White House across the country at this point. Just 45 percent of likely special election voters in the overwhelmingly Democratic district have a favorable opinion of the president, while a 52-percent majority has an unfavorable opinion.
Perhaps most striking is how likely voters view the current direction of the country. Only 15 percent of likely voters think the country is on the right track, while 78 percent think it is headed in the wrong direction.
By most measures, New York's 9th District is an unlikely electoral battleground between the two parties -- even in the volatile realm of special elections. According to data from the New York State Board of Elections, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the Queens- and Brooklyn-based district, 57 percent to 18 percent. The Siena sample is even more Democratic (61 percent Democrats, 17 percent Republicans, 19 percent independents). But while the district has a heavy Democratic registration edge, it gave Obama just 55 percent of the vote in 2008. Weiner beat Turner in 2010 by a wider, 22-point margin.
Weiner resigned in June after it was disclosed that he had engaged in improper electronic communications with women other than his wife. Now, more than two-thirds of likely special election voters have an unfavorable opinion of Weiner, while just 27 percent retain a favorable impression of the former congressman and one-time mayoral hopeful.
Whoever does win the special election may not be in Congress for long, however. The district is a prime target for elimination when the state legislature tackles redistricting next year.
The Siena poll was conducted Aug. 3-8, surveying 501 likely special-election voters. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent.