Exclusive: Erie County Executive Race a Dead Heat

6:09 PM, Nov 8, 2011   |    comments
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Election Night 2011 in Erie County may be a very long night. That's because a new poll conducted by Siena College, commissioned by WGRZ-TV and the Buffalo News, shows that Republican incumbent Chris Collins and Democratic challenger Mark Poloncarz are in a statistical tie.

The numbers are: 48% for Collins, 48% for Poloncarz, and 5% undecided. Those numbers are rounded to give us 101%. Technically, both candidates are at 47.6%, and 4.8% are undecided.

Siena College spoke to 1,319 voters in Erie County, so the margin or error for this poll is just +/- 2.7%.

WEB EXTRA: Click here to read the complete results of the Siena Poll commissioned by WGRZ and the Buffalo News.

The poll shows that Poloncarz has closed what was already a narrow race in the last few weeks. When the first poll of this campaign came out (in early October, also done by Siena for WGRZ-TV and the Buffalo News), Collins was ahead 49% to 46%.

Poloncarz reacted to the poll saying, "We've always knows this race is going to be close but this proves the momentum is on my side. We've gone up approximately five points. It's a dead heat. It's all gonna be about getting the vote out on Tuesday."

Collins' camp reacted in an email statement, reading in part; "This campaign is about jobs and the future of our community. On Election Day, voters will focus on our positive record of results in Erie County where we experienced 18 straight months of private sector job growth, and have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state and nation. The only poll that counts is the one taken on Election Day. "

Read the rest of the candidate's statements at the bottom of the story.

The rest of the survey is close as well. 51% of voters had a favorable opinion of Collins; Poloncarz was at 52%. Compared to the first poll, Collins favorable number fell four points (it was 55% in early October), while Poloncarz's favorable number went up three points (from 49% in early October).

Steven Greenberg with the Siena College said, "Poloncarz has become more known. Three weeks ago barely a quarter of the voters didn't even know enough about him to have a favorable or unfavorable view of Poloncarz. Right now Collins and Poloncarz have virtually identical favorability ratings."

When asked the questions of who was running the more positive, and then the more negative, campaign, Collins was ahead very slightly in both of those columns (39-38 for positive campaign, 41-39 for more negative campaign).

Both candidates released statements Saturday evening in regards to the updated results.

The rest of Collins' statement read, "Taxpayers support our campaign because they don't want to return to the dark days of typical politicians raising their taxes, wasting their money, and increasing the size of government. People are supporting our record of results: holding the line on taxes and spending, reducing the debt, and decreasing the size of our government."

Mark Poloncarz's statement read, "This latest poll only confirms what I have been hearing as I have traveled around the county for months. My campaign is gaining momentum and we are trending in the right direction. Voters are responding to my message of positive change and new leadership for Erie County. Over the next few days, I will continue to work hard and travel around the county to reach as many voters as possible. The only poll that matters is the one on Election Day. I am confident that when all the votes are counted, I will be elected County Executive."


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