Doug Hoffman has a commanding lead in the special election for New York's 23rd Congressional District.
In a three way contest with Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Dede Scozzafava Hoffman leads with 51% to 34% for Owens and 13% for Scozzafava. In a head to head contest with Owens Hoffman holds a 54-38 advantage.
Polling the race was a little haphazard in a weekend with many twists and turns but Hoffman showed a similar lead at all junctures. In interviews conducted before Scozzafava announced the suspension of her campaign Hoffman led Owens 49-31 with 17% going to Scozzafava. Poll respondents Saturday afternoon/evening and early Sunday afternoon were informed that Scozzafava had dropped out but that her name would still be on the ballot. During that period of time Hoffman led Owens 51-34 with Scozzafava's share going down to 12%. After Scozzafava announced she was endorsing Owens the remaining Sunday respondents were informed of that and the race showed a little tightening with Hoffman up 52-38 on Owens and Scozzafava's share dropping to 7%.
The bottom line though is that Hoffman led by double digits during every segment of the poll, an indication that he may have been headed for a definitive victory regardless of Scozzafava's actions over the course of the weekend.
Hoffman is leading Scozzafava 71-15 among Republicans with 12% going to Owens. Among Democrats Owens gets 67% to 21% for Hoffman and 10% for Scozzafava. Hoffman leads Owens 52-30 with independents.
One key finding that may have ultimately scuttled Scozzafava's candidacy: 59% of Republicans considered her to be a liberal and only 7% thought she was a conservative. By comparison 80% of them consider Hoffman to be a conservative, and that's a good thing where nearly two thirds of GOP voters define themselves that way.
Republican voters also appear to be considerably more energized about the election than Democrats. While Barack Obama won a narrow victory in NY-23 last year, those planning to vote in this race supported John McCain by a 51-43 margin. Obama's approval rating with likely voters is just 39%.
We will have much more on NY-23 over the next 24 hours.
Full results here