BUFFALO, NY -- It looks like the race for NY's 27th Congressional district is going to be an interesting one all the way to November. An exclusive survey commissioned by 2 On Your Side and the Buffalo News show the race between Republican Chris Collins and Democrat Kathy Hochul is a statistical dead heat.
See Complete Poll Results
WEB EXTRA: Tom Reynolds and Bruce Fisher debate the poll results
The poll, conducted by Siena College, surveyed 628 likely congressional voters in the district between August 12 and August 14, 2012. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.9%.
47% of likely voters said they would vote for Chris Collins, 45% said they would vote for Kathy Hochul. 7% were still undecided. Interestingly, when voters were asked how certain their vote was, 82% said it's unlikely or there's no chance they will change their mind. That still leaves 18% who said they are not very certain, or not certain at all that they will change their mind.
"It is a dog fight, we've always known it's going to be neck and neck but we like where we are right now," said Chris Collins.
"We always knew it was going to be close and given the demographic and mechanics of this district, we're doing very, very well," said Kathy Hochul.
And Hochul has a point there, the district has seven percent more Republicans than Democrats.
According to the poll, Hochul is doing a better job of getting people to cross party lines. While 74% of Republicans in the district said they would vote for Collins, 21% said they would vote for Hochul. By contrast, 80% of democrats voted for Hochul, while only 12% cross party lines and voted for Collins.
Both candidates are right near the 50% mark in favorability; 52% have a favorable impression of Hochul, compared to 48% for Collins. Again, Hochul is better with the other party. 36% of republicans in the district have a favorable impression of Hochul, compared to 24% of democrats with a favorable impression of Collins.
Mitt Romney has a 53% to 41% lead over President Obama, and that is probably the biggest hurdle facing Hochul.
Scott Brown: "How do you convince people who are going to vote for Mitt Romney to then vote for you?"
Kathy Hochul: "I've been doing that already. Yesterday I spent a lot of time in Wyoming County, the most Republican county in the state. When I tell them that nobody's going to fight harder to protect Medicare for them, they know it, they get it and they believe it. So we talk about issues that matter to them."
And what are those issues?
Among the more than 600 likely voters we questioned, the top issues are:
Jobs at 40%, the deficit at 25%, and health care at 13%.
Given that, we gave the two candidates a little quiz.
Scott Brown: "What would you say the top two issues voters told us were?"
Chris Collins: "The economy and jobs however that comes together, and deficit and debt, however that comes together."
Collins got it right on the nose. Hochul was close.
Scott Brown: "What do you think are the top two issues that people are concerned about in the district?"
Kathy Hochul: "Jobs and the economy those have to be right at the top."
The poll contained some information that both sides could hang their hat on:
Collins is doing better, by 6%, among independent swing voters than Hochul.
Hochul is doing better among Republicans than Collins does among Democrats
When it comes to specific topics facing residents of the district, Hochul and Collins are both strong, depending on the topic. Residents thought Hochul would do a better job on the issues of education, the war in Afghanistan, and representing the interests of the community. Collins gets higher marks for the topics of jobs, taxes, and the federal budget deficit. One interesting point: more residents in the district (56% to 40%) want to see President Obama's federal health care legislation overturned. However, on the topic of who would represent the district better on the topic of health care, Collins is only slightly ahead of Hochul (44% to 42%).
Now much like the presidential race, most people in the congressional race have already made up their mind who they're going to vote for.
In our poll, 82% said they're almost certain they won't change who they're going to vote for, leaving the two candidates to fight over the 18% of people who are still open to be persuaded.
Scott Brown: "What is your focus over this next eleven weeks?"
Chris Collins: "It's a lot more getting out and about. Last night we were in Livingston County, we're moving throughout the 5,200 square mile district, so we're doing a lot of what we would call retail."
Scott Brown: "What is going to be your focus these next 11 weeks?"
Kathy Hochul: "I'm going to be out there meeting as many people as I humanly can. That's what we've been doing, we've been all over."
That's the ground war, as far as the air war, Hochul is expected to start running her commercials within the next day or so. Collins will wait to see what Hochul does and then react accordingly.