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Potential Democratic candidate Geraldine Ferraro continues to hold a commanding lead over U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, according to a statewide independent poll released Thursday.

But a D'Amato aide noted the gap is somewhat narrower than it was in a similar poll conducted two months earlier.

The latest poll, by the Quinnipiac College Polling Institute, showed Ms. Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee, leading Republican D'Amato, 54 percent to 36 percent. Quinnipiac's July poll had Ms. Ferraro leading 55 percent to 32 percent.

"Senator D'Amato continues to improve, gaining five points in two months against Geraldine Ferraro," said Lisette McSoud Mondello.

Democrats had a different view of the poll.

"His efforts to rehabilitate himself are failing. . . . This is an excellent opportunity for the Democratic Party to take the seat," said state Democratic Party Chairwoman Judith Hope.

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