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Coverage of central and northern New York's congressional races, including the primary races and the general election.Races covered include the 24th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), who is running for reelection; the 22nd Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld), who is retiring; and the 21st Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro).

Clinton's lead over Trump widens in New York state

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
Hillary Clinton campaigning in Syracuse before New York state's presidential primary in April.

With less than three weeks before Election Day, Hillary Clinton is even further ahead of Donald Trump in New York state, and that could affect downballot races, including seats for the state Senate.

Clinton is 24 points ahead of Trump, at 54 percent to 30 percent, a jump from when Siena College did a survey in September. Spokesman Steve Greenberg said the biggest change is independents moving over to the Democratic presidential candidate’s camp. A two-point lead among independents for Clinton has grown to a 17-point lead.

The poll was conducted beginning last Thursday, after the controversy exploded over Trump’s alleged sexual harassment and assault of women.

Trump supporters said earlier this year that the GOP candidate would compete in New York, but since the political conventions, Trump has made only one appearance in New York, to accept the state’s Conservative Party’s endorsement in Manhattan in early September.

The increasingly lopsided race for president in New York may affect downballot races, which is important in the state Senate, where Republicans are attempting to maintain majority control against the growing number of Democrats.

Greenberg said not only will more New Yorkers likely vote for Clinton, they also are more likely to vote Democratic in the second race that will appear on the ballot, the competition for the U.S. Senate seat. The poll finds Sen. Chuck Schumer with a huge lead over challenger Wendy Long — 66 percent to 27 percent — and even 31 percent of Republicans backing Schumer.

“That means that a third of Republicans, two-thirds of New York voters are voting Democrat for U.S. Senate,” Greenberg said.

But Greenberg said that doesn’t necessarily mean that Republican candidates for Congress and the state Senate are in trouble. He said New York Republicans, as well as independents and even some Democrats, are used to splitting their ticket.

“New Yorkers have shown that they have no problem voting for Democrats for some offices, and Republicans for other offices,” Greenberg said.

State GOP Chair Ed Cox, speaking before the poll was released, predicted that Republicans running for the Senate and Congress aren’t going to have to worry, and that Trump will actually help them.

“I think downballot we’re going to do very well,” Cox said.

Senate Democrats, who are trying to take back the Senate, disagree with that theory. In a statement, Senate Democratic Campaign Committee spokesperson Mike Murphy said the poll “shows just how big a drag Donald Trump will be on the Senate Republicans.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.