Editor’s Note: This post was written by Richard Bratton, James LaValle and Brianna Russo.
Our research has led us to the conclusion that Republican Congressman John Katko will prevail in his re-election efforts over Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon by a margin of 61-39.
According to a poll conducted by The Siena College Research Institute and Time Warner Cable on October 21, 2016, the incumbent Katko now holds a 23-point lead over Deacon in New York’s 24th Congressional District race, up four points from just last week. The Cook Political Report had previously classified the NY-24 congressional race as a toss-up, however, the race has been re-classified as a “lean Republican” seat, giving Katko an excellent chance of winning re-election. In a district historically known for changing party hands, and being an unsafe seat for both Democrats and Republicans, such a large margin of victory would be unprecedented. Katko’s commanding lead in the district is largely due to his ability to cross party lines and that his message resonates with both Democrats and Republicans alike. This is highlighted by the fact that in the latest poll conducted, Congressman Katko had the support of 27% of Democrats in the district, whereas Deacon held the support of merely 9% of all Republicans. This is especially surprising, as the 24th District on a whole supports Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by a nearly 46-37 split, a sizeable gap that would generally indicate that the district would vote Democratic.
The cross-party support that Katko is receiving, and riding to victory, is due to his ability to fundraise as an incumbent and his track record during his first term in Congress. Katko was an effective representative for his district during his first term, willing to reach across the aisle and appeal to both Democratic and Republican voters in his district, a trait which attracts voters in such a polarized era. This is reflected in his polling results as Election Day draws closer. Additionally, as previously stated, Katko’s fundraising efforts have greatly surpassed Deacon’s, with his $2.5 million raised dwarfing the approximately $650,000 that Deacon raised during this election cycle. Finally, Katko’s status as a quality electoral candidate appears to be the single most deciding factor in the race for New York’s 24th Congressional District. During his first term in Congress, 63% of Representative Katko’s bills had bipartisan co-sponsors, which has been a very widely discussed topic in the race, helping Katko propel further in the polls and grow his bipartisan support base.
Congressman Katko is a quality candidate and has earned the trust of his constituents due to his impressive freshman track record on Capitol Hill. Conversely, Deacon has not held office and her political experience stems from her close work with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. The endorsement from Senator Gillibrand, along with the large number of votes from her hometown, located in district, may have been enough for Deacon to win the district’s Democratic primary; however, this endorsement and the “hometown advantage” she enjoyed during the primary will not provide enough pull to win the minds of the voting electorate to outweigh Congressman Katko’s success thus far. The race between Democrats and Republicans for New York’s 24th Congressional District is a tightly contested race every election cycle, with the seat often switching hands, as it has in every election since 2006; the district has voted to not re-elect its incumbent in every congressional election since 2006. Katko, however, is headed in the direction of breaking this pattern, defeating Deacon by a substantial, bipartisan margin, and returning to Congress for his sophomore term this spring.