Stacy McCain reports today that Dede Scozzafava has quit the special election in New York after an independent pollster found her badly trailing both Douglas Hoffman and Democrat Bob Owens. Reportedly, she tearfully withdrew and threw her support to Hoffman:
Just confirmed that Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava has quit the race. Speaking to supporters, Scozzafava broke down in tears.
UPDATE: Scozzafava, the hand-picked choice of the New York state GOP in the key 23rd District special election, reportedly will throw her support to Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.
This has been confirmed by the local Watertown Daily Times, but report that she has not made an endorsement:
Dede Scozzafava, the Republican and Independence parties candidate in the 23rd Congressional District, is suspending her campaign and releasing her supporters.
The state Assemblywoman has not backed either of her two opponents in the race, Doug Hoffman or Bill Owens.
What prompted the withdrawal? The new Siena poll this morning shows Scozzafava trailing both candidates badly:
The race for the 23rd Congressional District is too close to call between Democrat Bill Owens (36 percent) and Conservative Doug Hoffman (35 percent) heading into the final days of the campaign. Republican Assembly member Dede Scozzafava has dropped to 20 percent, with nine percent of voters still undecided, according to a new Siena (College) Research Institute poll of likely voters.
Owens has increased his lead among Democrats, while Hoffman has taken the lead with Republicans and maintained his lead with independent voters. Hoffman has widened his lead in the southern portion of the district, as Owens’ lead in the eastern part of the district has narrowed and Scozzafava’s strong lead in the western portion of the district has virtually disappeared, although she maintains a narrow lead. By a 51-29 percent margin, likely voters have an unfavorable view of Scozzafava, while both Hoffman (41-37 percent) and Owens (40-36 percent) receive slightly favorable ratings from voters.
“Unfortunately for Assemblywoman Scozzafava, this has become a two person race between Owens and Hoffman,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg. “She now has the support of only one in five voters, having gone from 35 percent support to 20 percent support since the beginning of the month.[“]
This confirms the basic thrust of the three earlier polls, and especially the Daily Kos poll, which got the ranking of the candidates and the distribution of the vote almost exactly correct. Scozzafava has seen her negatives explode, while her two opponents have only become more accepted as they became more well known. She has no chance of winning this race, and her withdrawal leaves Hoffman with the Republican vote whether she endorses him or not.
Will the NRCC shift gears and start buying ads supporting Hoffman in the final three days of this race?
Update: I had neglected to review the poll in much detail, but I suspect that Scozzafava’s withdrawal (or suspension, more accurately, since her name will stay on the ballot) hurts Bob Owens tremendously. According to the poll, Hoffman had attracted 50% of the Republican vote, while Owens had 2/3rds of the Democrats. Hoffman leads Owens among independents, 40%-35%, and the remaining 15% supporting Scozzafava will almost certainly break more towards Hoffman than Owens. Owens will likely get more of Scozzafava’s Democratic supporters, but she only had 11%, while 14% have already gone to Hoffman. Hoffman and Owens had a near-even split of the opposition in Scozzafava’s regional stronghold of Jefferson/Lewis/St. Lawrence counties, but I’d be surprised if Hoffman didn’t pick up more in those areas of disaffected Scozzafava voters, too.
Hoffman now has the default Republican endorsement with Scozzafava’s retreat, as well as all of the late momentum.
Update II: Dave Weigel reports via Twitter that “Hoffman activists are heading to Scozzafava’s HQ to convince her to make an endorsement.”