Expanding Base Past Syracuse Key for Balter in NY-24 By Luke Perry
This fall the Siena Research Institute released a series of polls for Congressional races from central New York. I previously examined major takeaways in NY-22 and NY-19. This piece examines major takeaways from NY-24 between second term Republican incumbent John Katko and Democratic challenger Dana Balter. Both recently participated in the Upstate Interview Series (Balter/Katko).
4 Key Takeaways
1. Katko has a big lead
John Katko has a sizeable lead of 15 points (with a margin of error of 4.7 points). This was lower than his election margin in 2014 and reelection margin in 2016, but still much larger than other GOP House incumbents in central New York, including Claudia Tenney (NY-22) and John Faso (NY-19). Katko’s lead is also significant given the 11,183 registered voter advantage for Democrats in NY-24.
If there was ever a time for Democrats and Independents to abandon Katko, this is the political climate. Yet 1 in 5 Democrats supported Katko. Balter’s Democratic support was 72 percent, about 20 points lower than normal for a Congressional candidate. Katko also had an 11 point advantage among Independents.
2. Balter is dominating Syracuse
Dana Balter’s geographic base is Syracuse, where she earned 62 percent support for a 32 point advantage over Katko. This is not surprising, given her academic and professional background in the city.
The problem for Balter is that Katko is dominating the remainder of the district. Katko is up 14 points in the rest of Onondaga County and 35 points in a combination of Cayuga, Oswego, and Wayne counties. For Balter to be successful, she will need to expand her geographic base.
3. Katko is Much More Popular Than Other NY GOP Incumbents
53 percent of likely NY-24 voters viewed John Katko favorably, 17 points more than those who viewed him unfavorably. This was 21 points higher than Balter. 45 percent did not know, or had no opinion, toward Balter’s favorability, suggesting lack of name recognition.
Katko’s favorability was also 16 points higher than John Faso (NY-19) and 11 points higher than Claudia Tenney (NY-22), both of whom were viewed more unfavorably than favorably. This helps explain why Katko is the only one of the three to have a commanding lead.
4. Gender is an issue
Katko is up 31 points among men. This was ten points higher than John Faso’s male edge in NY-19. Claudia Tenney has a 23 point advantage with men in NY-22, suggesting male support of Republican candidates may be more about partisanship than the candidates themselves.
Balter and Katko were evenly divided among women. This was a bit surprising, given the NY-24 is a Democratic district and liberal women have become a growing force in electoral politics this cycle. Anthony Brindisi in NY-22 had a 16 point advantage among women in a heavily Republican district.
Though behind, Dana Balter raised more money last quarter than any NY-24 candidate, ever. This was helpful after Balter depleted her cash-on-hand during a competitive Democratic primary. Whether this money can be effectively deployed to move public opinion in Balter’s favor will be pivotal in the weeks ahead.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.