New survey has Hoffman leading in NY-23

It has a small sample of only 300 likely voters, but a new survey finds Conservative Party of New York congressional candidate Doug Hoffman leading for the first time over his Democrat and Republican rivals in the special election to fill the 23rd district congressional seat vacated by Rep. John McHugh, R-NY.

The survey was conducted by Basswood Research pollster Jon Lerner and has a margin of error of 5.66 percent, which is rather wide. Even so, the results are consistent in terms of overall trend with recent surveys by other pollsters that showed Hoffman's support heading upwards.

Basswood's results show Hoffman leading with 31.3 percent, while Democrat Bill Owens is second at 27 percent and Republican Dede Scozzafava third at 19.7 percent. A little more than one in five voters remain undecided, according to the survey, at 22 percent. Basswood conducted the survey for Club for Growth, a conservative activist group that is spending several hunded thousand dollars on advertising for Hoffman.

Scozzafava, a liberal New York Assemblywoman who has run in prior elections with the endorsement  of ACORN's Working Families Party, was annointed by local Republican leaders as the GOP candidate after McHugh announced his acceptance of President Obama's appointment as Secretary of the Army. Hoffman had sought the GOP nomination but opted to run as the Conservative Party candidate after Scozzafava was named.

Scozzafava made national headlines last week by calling the cops on The Weekly Standard's John McCormack after he asked her about her support of Card Check, abortion and gay rights. After first claiming that McCormack was screaming his questions at Scozzafava, her media spokesman conceded that was not true when The Weekly Standard writer produced a tape recording of the encounter.

Following the McCormack flap, a number of conservative bloggers and publications, including this newspaper, called on Scozzafava to withdraw from the race.

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