Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter has a three-point lead over Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko, according to a new poll released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The DCCC distributed a summary of the poll results on Friday before Balter, D-Syracuse, launched her general election campaign. The poll, which is based on responses from 400 voters in the 24th Congressional District and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%, found Balter leads 48 to 45% over Katko.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has an 18-point lead, 54 to 36%, over GOP President Donald Trump in the 24th district.
Katko is viewed favorably by 42% of the voters surveyed, while another 40% have an unfavorable opinion.
The poll was conducted June 18-22 — the final five days before the June 23 primary election. Balter and Francis Conole were vying for the Democratic nomination. After the early and election night votes were counted, Balter had a 29-point lead over Conole.
While there are more than 30,000 absentee ballots to count, Conole believes he won't overcome the deficit and conceded to Balter.
With Balter as the presumptive Democratic nominee, it sets up a rematch with Katko. Katko defeated Balter by five percentage points in 2018.
The DCCC's poll is the second released by a Democratic organization showing a tight race between the two candidates. House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, released a poll late Thursday that found Balter and Katko running even at 47%.
During her press conference Friday, Balter mentioned the DCCC poll. When she informed the crowd that the survey found she has a three-point lead over Katko, her supporters cheered.
"In November, we have the opportunity to vote for the vision of America that we endorse and I'm proud to stand with you in the fight to make that vision a reality," Balter said.
Katko said in an interview with The Citizen that he welcomes Balter to the race and is looking forward to the campaign over the next four months. U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, believes Katko is in a strong position to win a fourth term in Congress.
"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."
After Balter's primary win and the release of the two polls by Democratic organizations, one political forecaster — Cook Political Report — changed its race rating from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican."
The general election campaign is in its infancy, but the Democrats' message focuses on Katko's endorsement of Trump. DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos also criticized Katko for "his loyalty to special interests" and his vote in support of the 2017 tax law, one of Trump's signature legislative achievements.
"Dana Balter is running for Congress because she understands the challenges facing central New Yorkers," Bustos said. "In 2018, Dana gave Katko his toughest reelection fight yet and she's ready to finish the job this November."
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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