Hours after Francis Conole conceded the Democratic primary election to Dana Balter, a Democratic super PAC released a poll showing the party's nominee in a dead heat with Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko.
The poll conducted by Normington, Petts & Associates on behalf of House Majority PAC found Balter, D-Syracuse and Katko, R-Camillus are statistically tied. Out of the 400 likely voters surveyed in the 24th Congressional District, 47% said they prefer Balter. Forty-six percent said they would vote for Katko. But when combined with the voters who are leaning one way or the other, both candidates are supported by 47% of voters. Five percent of voters are undecided.
In the presidential race, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has a 16-point lead (56 to 40%) over Republican President Donald Trump in the 24th district. Two-thirds of voters believe the country is headed on the wrong track, while 28% believe it's going in the right direction.
According to a memo, the poll was conducted June 8-10 — about two weeks before the primary election. Democrats and Republicans made up 37% and 36% of the sample, respectively. Nineteen percent were independents and 8% were "something else." The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9%.
A spokesperson for House Majority PAC said the poll shows Balter is "immediately competitive" in the race with Katko.
Balter received nearly 65% (10,566 votes) of the early vote and primary day tally. Conole netted 5,813 votes, or 35% of the vote. There are more than 30,000 absentee ballots to count, but Conole conceded the primary contest and asked his supporters to unite behind Balter.
With the primary election win, Balter gets the rematch she wanted. She was the Democratic nominee in 2018. Katko defeated her by five percentage points to win a third term in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, is confident Katko can defeat Balter again and win reelection.
"John Katko continues to make good on his promise to be a bipartisan problem solver delivering solutions for New Yorkers," Emmer said. "As they did last cycle, voters will reject Dana Balter and her radical, partisan agenda and support for dangerous policies like New York's disastrous bail reform law. I look forward to continuing to work with John in Congress for years to come."
Political forecasters rate the race either "likely Republican" or "lean Republican," but those ratings don't factor in the primary outcome. Katko holds the fundraising advantage with more than $1.2 million in his campaign war chest. Balter had $180,609, according to her most recent filing.
The race is a high priority for both parties. Republicans believe Katko can retain the seat, despite the Democratic enrollment advantage. Democrats have identified the 24th district as a top 2020 target.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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