The most recent Siena College poll released over the weekend shows Democratic challenger Dana Balter 3 points ahead of Republican incumbent Rep. John Katko in the race for New York's 24th Congressional District.
“Nobody should relax. Katko shouldn’t get depressed and Balter shouldn’t get confident,” said Syracuse University Professor Margaret Susan Thompson.
There are complications. Balter is only ahead by 2 points if Working Families Party candidate Steve Williams is counted in the poll. Though he is on the ballot, Williams has said he is not actively campaigning.
“In some places, he’s polling up to 6 percent," Thompson said of Williams. "What’s interesting is he seems to be pulling votes from Katko and Balter."
Balter's slim 45-42 percent lead exists in the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percentage points.
“It’s fairly large, but it's not unusual and I think one of the reasons the Siena Poll is highly regarded as it is is because it’s very careful,” said Thompson.
So was the poll surprising to Rep. Katko, who is running for his fourth term?
"No, we knew it was going to be a tough race. That’s to be expected," Katko said.
And what about Balter?
“I believe that Democrats are going to win the White House and the Senate and I believe we are going expand our majority in the House and I’m looking forward to making the 24th District part of that,” said Balter.
The Syracuse-based district went through nearly a decade of voting out incumbents every 2 years for the other party, but Katko has held office for six consecutive years.
“And of course the seat next to us is also a district that switches, and of course we have a rematch in this district as we do in this one," Thompson said.