Republican challenger Chris Gibson has a 9-percentage-point lead over U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, in the latest Siena Research Institute poll in the 20th Congressional District race.
The poll results, announced Tuesday, showed Gibson with 51 percent of likely voters and Murphy with 42 percent, and 7 percent undecided.
The poll, conducted Saturday through Monday, had a margin of error of 3.8 percent.
Both campaigns sought to downplay the significance of the poll, which comes a week before the Nov. 2 election.
"We are encouraged by the support we have been getting from the voters over the course of this campaign," said Daniel Odescalchi, a spokesman for the Gibson campaign. "We will continue working to earn the voters' confidence and support."
The Murphy campaign's most recent internal polling from late last week showed Murphy with a 3-percentage-point lead, said Josh Schwerin, a campaign spokesman.
"We trust our polling, and we're continuing going forward," he said.
Gibson and Murphy were both busy campaigning on Tuesday and were not available to comment directly, their respective spokesmen said.
Siena is the only independent poll in the race.
The latest poll results show a significant difference from an earlier Siena poll in mid-September in which Murphy was leading by 17 percentage points.
The earlier poll was conducted just days after Gibson began airing television commercials.
A big difference between the two polls was among Republicans, with 32 percent of them supporting Murphy in mid-September but only 18 percent backing him in the latest poll, said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg,
"What I think we see is that Republicans have come home," he said in a telephone interview.
Republicans have a significant voter enrollment advantage in the 10-county district, which stretches from Dutchess County north to Lake Placid, in Essex County.
There are about as many Republicans as Democrats and independents combined.
Area Republican leaders credit Gibson's lead in the poll to a strong grassroots campaign, coupled with his stance on issues such as health care reform and energy.
Gibson, a retired Army colonel from Kinderhook, in Columbia County, has called for repealing and replacing the health care reform bill, which Murphy voted for.
"It's clear that people have had a chance to meet Mr. Gibson and understand what both candidates are all about," said Washington County Republican Chairman John Patterson.
Democrats will continue to emphasize Murphy's business background and Gibson's opposition to raising tax rates on the foreign operations of multinational corporations in order to make domestic operations more competitive, said Saratoga County Democratic Chairman Larry Bulman.
"I've said all along this is going to be a two- or a three-point race, and I still believe that," Bulman said.
Clearly get-out-the-vote strategies will be critical to both campaigns, said Greenberg, the Siena pollster.
"Look - we still have a week to go, a week of campaigning, a week of commercials. But ultimately, it's going to come down to which side does a better job next Tuesday of getting their voters to the polls," he said. "This is a district with far more Republicans than Democrats in it. And for a Democrat to win, for Murphy to win, he's got to really boost Democratic turnout and get those voters to the polls."
Greenberg's observation is "absolutely correct," said Bulman, the Saratoga County Democratic chairman.
"That's why Andrew Cuomo's coming to town on Saturday. That's why President Clinton's coming to town on Monday. We want to energize the base," he said.
Rallies in Saratoga County are planned on Saturday with Cuomo, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and with Clinton in the Saratoga Springs area on Monday.
Details were still being worked out on Tuesday.
Republicans are planning rallies, door-to-door campaigning and mailings, said Warren County Republican Chairman Michael Grasso.
"We're trying to win this on the ground," he said.