Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

Far from Long Island, a congressional race in northern New York is tilting toward the Democrats, according to a new poll released Monday.

In the district that represents most of the state’s North Country, Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) leads Republican Matt Doheny 49-36, according to the Siena College survey. The district had almost always been Republican until Owens won a special election in 2009 and survived the Republican wave year in 2010 – in part because a Conservative Party candidate siphoned votes away from Doheny.

With no Conservative candidate on the ballot this year and, instead, a Green Party candidate, Republicans figured their chances would be better.

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But Siena said those surveyed favor Owens on Medicare, education, tax cuts and Afghanistan -- themes the Democrats have been hammering. Among independent voters, Owens leads 54 percent to 24 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

The poll is sure to be touted by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), who is in charge of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as a harbinger of a Democratic rebound from 2010. Israel thinks although New York won’t be a presidential battleground, it will be key to which party controls the House of Representatives. The rematch contest between Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Republican Randy Altschuler on the eastern end of Long Island is considered to be one of eight N.Y. seats in play.