Republican challenger Chris Collins faces Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul in the race for New York's 27th Congressional District.
Tuesday night is going to be an interesting night in the new 27th congressional district. It appears the race between incumbent Kathy Hochul and challenger Chris Collins will be going right down to the wire, and possibly beyond.
See Complete Poll Result Breakdown
The latest WGRZ/Buffalo News poll conducted by Siena College shows the two candidates remain in a statistical dead heat. Collins has a one-point lead over Hochul, 48-47, but with a margin of error of +/- 3.9%, the race is too close to call.
The race has been this way in all three polls conducted by Siena College for WGRZ and the Buffalo News. The three polls were conducted in mid-August, the first week of October, and this past week. In the first, Collins was ahead 47-45, with 8% saying they were undecided or note voting; in the second, both candidates had 47% of the vote, and 6% were undecided/not voting. For this third poll, only 5% are still undecided/not voting.
Siena pollster Steve Greenberg says, "the candidates have divided the voters of the 27th Congressional District virtually down the middle. Half of them are strong Collins supporters, half of them are strong Hochul supporters and there's just very few left who haven't made a decision."
A couple of things are working in Chris Collins' favor as we hit the home stretch. First, remember the district has 7% more registered republicans. Second, the district, in all three of these polls, chooses Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for president. The biggest for Collins, though, may be in this third poll; 50% of the respondents had a favorable impression of him. That's the first time in the three polls he cracked 50%. Conversely, Hochul has gone from a 52% favorable rating in the August poll, to a 47% favorable rating in the latest poll.
The candidates were both upbeat in their response to the poll.
"We feel the energy and the momentum," Collins said, "we have not crested yet. So we're very optimistic Tuesday night is gonna be a good night for us."
Hochul talked about the makeup of the district, "I think in the most Republican district in the state of New York, to still be basically in a tie going in to the election is really significant."
The candidates have flip-flopped where they are getting most support. In the October poll, Hochul led in the Erie County portion of the district 51-45%; Collins led in the other counties that make up the district 48-44%. Compare that to this week's poll; Collins now leads in Erie County 52-46%, while Hochul leads in the other counties 48-45%.
Both sides spent Saturday campaigning in Genesee and Livingston Counties.
Most analysts have agreed the key to a Hochul victory is her ability to get republican voters in the district to cross over and vote for her; remember, there are 7% more republicans in the district. In the first two polls, 21% of republicans in the district said they would vote for Hochul; in this latest poll, that number is 19%. That's within the poll's margin of error, but not trending in the direction Hochul would want.
Still, Hochul says she remains and independent voice, "People are gonna vote for who they want at the top of the ticket. Many people are telling me they'll vote for Romney for President and they're voting for me for Congress. And that's because I've already demonstrated my willingness to break from the party on issues that are important to the district."
And what about those ads that have permeated the airwaves? Siena College asked in the second and third polls which candidate has been wagering the more negative campaign. In the October poll, 30% said Hochul, 34% said Collins, 11% said both, and 3% said neither. In this last poll, 39% said Hochul, 34% said Collins, 17% said both, and 1% said neither.
Collins addressed that on Saturday, "I do believe it's backfired on her in the Buffalo area where I'm very well known. The flip side is I'm not well known in Rochester so they're seeing these negative ads. They may have hurt us a little bit out there, they're false. But sometimes people get away with things."