An internal poll conducted two weeks ago for Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton's campaign found a deadlocked member-versus-member race in Ohio's 16th Congressional District, confirming the results of early Democratic surveys. Sutton took 42 percent to freshman Republican Rep. Jim Renacci's 40 percent in her poll. Repeat Libertarian candidate Jeffrey Blevins took 12 percent of likely voters.

The poll was conducted for Sutton by GBA Strategies and surveyed 500 likely voters from July 15-19. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

A poll by Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC in July also found Sutton and Renacci virtually tied with around 40 percent of the vote, though Blevins took a much smaller slice of the vote in that survey. Third-party candidates often underperform their poll results at the ballot box, and Sutton's pollsters found that Blevins was drawing supporters about equally from the major-party incumbents.

Yet another deadlocked survey highlights the importance of the coming spending blitz in the Cleveland media market, where Democratic and Republican outside groups have already reserved millions in TV advertising time. Democratic groups including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have locked down more than $3 million in Cleveland reservations already, while the National Republican Congressional Committee and other GOP groups have reserved more than $2 million so far. Renacci had a cash advantage over Sutton of more than $600,000 at the end of the last financial reporting period.

Sutton and Renacci were drawn together in redistricting, after Ohio lost two congressional seats due to slow population growth. Renacci brings more than 40 percent of the new district residents from his old seat, while Sutton has fewer old constituents — about 20 percent.

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