Poll changes tenor of congressional race

In just a few days' time, the special election in the 20th Congressional District has undergone a marked change. A Thursday, March 12 Siena Research Institute poll indicated that Republican James Tedisco's lead over Democrat Scott Murphy had narrowed to just four points, altering the tone taken by political pundits and affecting the tenor of Tedisco's campaign overnight.

Tedisco is now indicating he will run a more positive campaign, and his campaign ads released since then, along with the tone of his arguments, indicate he is striving to play up his good points rather than expose his opponent's flaws.

He's going to make sure the record is reflecting his record as a public servant and his positive accomplishments, said Joshua Fitzpatrick, a Tedisco campaign spokesman. "He wants to make sure, going forward, that the emphasis is there."

The Siena poll also indicated the importance of television advertising in winning over the vital 13 percent of likely voters that still remain undecided. The poll indicates that 86 percent of those polled have seen or heard a Tedisco ad, while 80 percent have seen one for Murphy. While half or more of the voters in each category say a candidate's ads will not affect them, Murphy's ads won voters over rather than turn them away, 28 to 20 percent. With Tedisco's spots, on the other hand, just 12 percent said they would be more likely to support him based on the ads, while 28 percent said the ads would make their support less likely.

Although that data could reflect a number of factors, on the surface it is clear that Tedisco's ads were unsuccessful, at least according to these voters. And while the candidate is striving to change that, elements of his party might not be so open to adjustments.

Fitzpatrick would not commit his candidate to running a "clean" campaign, but did indicate that if mud is being slung in the future, voters should know it did not originate in the Tedisco camp.

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