About 200 local supporters of Matt Doheny's congressional campaign were invited to a conference call yesterday afternoon to discuss the state of the race against Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh.
The message? The race is tighter than polls suggest, so keep up the campaigning, according to several Republicans who were involved in the call.
A Siena College Research Institute poll showed that Mr. Owens had a 13-point lead over Mr. Doheny — a good position for the incumbent, but not insurmountable. And the Doheny campaign maintains that it's much closer than that, based on internal polling. Independent expenditure reports from the National Republican Congressional Committee show that the House Republican political arm did some polling in the district, but that poll hasn't been released.
Mr. Doheny and a few political analysts told attendees on the phone call that the plan is to keep hammering Mr. Owens on his voting record to help motivate the considerable Republican base in the district and to persuade people on the fence to vote for Mr. Doheny. If that sounds like a John Madden-esque, "Whoever wins the most points will win the game," it's because the task appears to be that simple. There are many more Republicans in the district than Democrats.
One of the challenges after a poor showing in a public poll is to keep people motivated and to keep them fighting. That appears to have been the purpose of the conference call last night.