BUFFALO, N.Y. - Suddenly, the race for Erie County Executive has become very interesting. A new poll shows the battle between incumbent Chris Collins and his challenger, county comptroller Mark Poloncarz is a statistical dead heat.
The Siena College poll, conducted exclusively for WGRZ and the Buffalo News, shows that Collins leads Poloncarz 49% to 46% of likely voters. 6% said they didn't know. But with a margin of error of +/- 3.4%, it is a statistical tie.
Steven Greenberg, a spokesman for the Siena College Poll, says "This race is as close and as exciting as a Bill-Patriots matchup. Collins leads by three points with a month to go. There is no reason to think that this race won't stay tight right up until Election Day."
While the results of the poll may be a surprise for some, reaction from the two campaigns was predictable. Collins campaign spokesman Stefan Mychajliw said "We know this is a media manufactured poll that is pure fiction." Mark Poloncarz responded "I'm not surprised. This is exactly what we've been seeing. All along I've said this race is tight."
The survey, conducted this past week, surveyed 831 likely voters in Erie County.
The poll reveals a lot about voter feelings concerning this election, and especially concerning the candidates themselves. For example, 70% of the respondents think Republican incumbent Chris Collins has kept his campaign promise from four years ago to control county spending and taxes. Also, county spending, jobs, and taxes are listed by respondents as the biggest issues in this campaign.
However, 41% of respondents have an unfavorable opinion of Collins; a high number considering what respondents thought about Collins keeping his campaign promise. 55% have a favorable opinion of Collins. Only 4% have no opinion of Collins. Compare that to Democratic candidate Poloncarz, who has a much larger "no opinion" number (24%). The Poloncarz campaign sees that as an opportunity.
Among those who said county spending or taxes were the biggest issue, more of those people support Collins. For the people who said jobs were the biggest issue, more of those respondents supported Poloncarz.
Much has been made over the past year about the Collins administration's handling of funding for county libraries, cultural activities, child care, and health care clinics. And in all of those categories, more respondents think the county has not done enough to support these areas.
- Download the full WGRZ / Buffalo News Poll Results