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GOP Challenger Pulls Ahead in Race for Weiner’s Spot

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) - There’s some bad news for the White House and the Democratic Party regarding the special election to fill Anthony Weiner’s vacated congressional seat in New York.

Although Democrats hold a three-to-one registration advantage over Republicans in the district, Republican Bob Turner has opened a lead over Democrat David Weprin, grabbing 50 percent compared with Weprin's 44 of likely voters, according to a new Siena Research Institute poll.

The election is next Tuesday.

A Turner victory would be an ominous sign for Democrats and President Obama’s re-election campaign, as the district, which spans Brooklyn and Queens, is filled with the kind of white, middle-class, usually reliable Democratic voters that the president needs in his corner to win re-election.

However, the poll also found that voters in the district are down on the president, and the direction of the country.

The voters’ views of the candidates has clearly changed: Weprin’s unfavorable ratings shot up, to 41 percent from 24 percent a month ago.  And by a 43-32 percent margin, likely voters say Turner is running the more positive campaign.

Sensing the seat could be slipping away, the national Democratic Party has begun pouring money into the race – including a $500,000 infusion this week from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  Even if Weprin can pull out a victory, it is still an enormous expenditure in an election Democrats once believed was a lock.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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