Walton astonished the political world by defeating four-term incumbent Brown in a low-turnout June Democratic primary. This marks the biggest upset since fellow Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez toppled ex-Congressman and Queens Democratic Party leader Joe Crowley in the 2018 primary.
Brown is doing a write-in campaign, "Write Down Byron Brown," The WIVB/Emerson College survey shows him ahead by 17 points among the broader electorate.
The poll found 53.8 percent of voters support Brown, compared to 36.2 percent of Buffalonians for Walton.
Another 6 percent of voters are undecided, while 3.8 percent said they would back someone else. Ben Carlisle is a second write-in candidate.
The WIVB/Emerson poll sought to confront the challenge that Write-in candidates typically face uphill races, and polling the support for such a candidate is dicey.
The pollster asked voters who they planned to vote for and gave only Walton’s name, an "undecided option," and an option for "someone else." Those who responded "someone else" had to volunteer Brown’s name to be counted in the poll results. There is no Republican candidate on the ballot.
"Considering only 6 percent of voters are currently undecided right now, Byron Brown has a pretty significant lead in the race that may not be able to be overcome by India Walton," Emerson College Polling analyst Isabel Holloway told WIVB.
"Even when we asked those undecided voters who they are leaning towards at this time, they break over 2-to-1 toward someone else rather than India Walton."
Brown has increased his lead from 10 points in an August poll to 17 points. The pollster attributed the surge to increased interest and turnout for the general election and attacks on Walton’s leftist politics. These have struck a chord with moderate and conservative voters.
"However, we found that that is not true. In fact, Byron Brown is leading among registered Democrats. This suggests that Democrats tuned in after the primary election and maybe did not turn out for Byron Brown in the primary but are choosing to do so in the general."
Both Walton and Brown are African American. If elected, Walton would become Buffalo’s first female Mayor,