Siena NY-27: Collins Leads, Baseline Set

A week or so ago, Channel 2 and the Buffalo News commissioned Siena College’s Research Institute to survey 628 likely voters in the newly constituted NY-27. The headlines revealed that Collins leads Hochul by a very slim margin – within the 3.9% margin of error. (Collins: 47%, Hochul 45%, 7% unsure). This comes as no surprise to anyone, given the fact that the district is largely populated in Erie County’s suburbs, where Collins finds his base, and because of the heavy GOP advantage within that geography. 

The sample consists of 32% Democrats, 41% Republicans, 26% independent or other (not to be confused with the execrable, transactional “Independence Party”). 42% of the sample came from Erie County, with the balance from Niagara and GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming). 

The poll’s crosstabs are here. Some takeaways

  1. Hochul’s favorables are much stronger than Collins among voters outside of Erie County. Her favorable/unfavorable/dnk in Erie Co. is 54/39/8; outside of the county it’s 50/29/20. Collins’ are 57/38/5 in Erie, and 41/30/29.  
  2. 54% of the survey respondents say they prefer a majority Republican congress. It’s a testament to the good job that Hochul’s doing that 45% would like to re-elect Hochul to Congress, versus 40% who wouldn’t, and 14% who have no clue. 
  3. President Obama isn’t too popular in the district, with 56% saying they have an unfavorable opinion of him.  Obama would lose the district 53-41 if the election was held during the survey period. Cuomo’s favorable rating is 66%.  
  4. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a 47% favorability rating, 35% unfavorable, and 18% don’t know. Astonishingly, her Republican opponent’s ratings are 15% favorable, 14% unfavorable, and a whopping 71% don’t know. Nevertheless, when the survey asks voters whether they’d vote for Gilibrand “on the Democratic line”, or Long “on the Republican line”, the result is 49% Gillibrand, 40% Long, and 11% don’t know. 
  5. 50% of NY-27 voters would like the Bush tax cuts repealed for amounts earned in excess of $250,000. 47% oppose a repeal, and 4% were holding the phone backwards. 
  6. The top issues are jobs, the deficit, and health care, and voters prefer Collins by a slim margin on all three of those issues. Hochul is preferred on the Afghan war and education. Inexplicably, Medicare was not part of the questioning. 
  7. 46% of respondents think Hochul would do a better job than Collins in representing the district’s interests. 42% prefer Collins, while 12% like turtles. 

It’s a very tight race, and the coming TV ads are going to bombard us with information that’s carefully tailored to move the needle on these issues one way or another. The last time Siena gave Collins news that he was in a dead heat, he sent out current Comptroller candidate Stefan Mychajliw to denigrate Siena and its mother as “fictitious, inaccurate, and worthless”  to anyone would would listen (read: Bob McCarthy). 

Hochul’s big challenge? Corwin wasn’t anywhere near as well-known or well-regarded as Collins throughout the district. Whereas Corwin came across just as aloof and arrogant as Collins, perhaps there’s more than just a hint of sexism at play, since voters seem willing to accept much boorish behavior from the Six Sigma enthusiast than from Assemblywoman Corwin, whom Hochul obliterated in favorability with each passing day during the 2011 race. 

Hochul needs to get out in front of the Medicare issue, and she needs to start making Collins look like the bad guy he really is. I would be shocked if Collins himself didn’t give her the assist by doing or saying a string of absolutely horrible, head-shaking things. 

In May 2011, Hochul defeated Corwin 47 – 43%. What we’ve learned from the Corwin campaign and the Collins race against Poloncarz, when the Collins crew is faced with a credible and well-funded candidate, they get too cocky by half and screw it all up. With Collins’ recent declaration that 25 pages’ worth of his tax schedules and worksheets are too much for our feeble minds to handle, it looks like not a lot has changed. 


  • To anyone who doubted my opinion last week that the Buffalo News is solidly in the Collins camp, please refer to today’s front page “story”.  It was written by Jerry Zremski, the same water carrier Collins apparently trusted enough to conduct a private inspection of his (partial) tax returns.

  • The bad news for Hochul is she needs to win Erie County by a good margin to have a chance and the poll’s crosstabs show they are tied.  If that stands, she is toast.

    Collins has a lot of room to grow outside of Erie County and in a presidential year you can generally count on the base to turnout and everyone seems to think this is a “turnout your base” election as each side despises the other….evidenced by Romney whooping Obama here.   Not much room to pick up crossovers.

    Collins really has everything in his favor and should win comfortably BUT, as Alan so aptly put it, he is capable of “doing or saying a string of absolutely horrible, head-shaking things. ”

    Hence, toss up.

    • All true.  Collins should easily win, just as he should have beaten Poloncarz, and how Corwin should have beaten Hochul to begin with.  The district was completely gerrymandered to the advantage of GOP.  Collins’ terrible (and often lazy) campaigning makes it close, combined with Hochul’s ability to reach people.

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