A Siena poll commissioned by The Buffalo News and WGRZ-TV found one of New York’s most competitive House races – the showdown between Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul and former GOP Erie County Executive Chris Collins in the state’s most Republican leaning congressional district – is almost a tie.

Collins leads Hochul by a mere two percentage points, 47-45, with just seven percent of voters undecided. The margin of error for the poll is 3.9 percent.

Four in 10 votes in NY-27 said jobs and the economy is the most important issue facing their congressional representative, while 25 percent said the federal budget deficit is their top issue.

Thirteen percent of voters chose health care as their top priority, 7 percent said education and 6 percent each said taxes and the war in Afghanistan.

In other words, it doesn’t appear likely at this point that the Rep. Paul Ryan budget/Medicare voucher issue is going to turn this race in Hochul’s favor the way it did in the special election last spring.

This poll was conducted Aug. 12-14, just as the news of Mitt Romney’s selection of Ryan as his running mate was dominating the political news cycle.

Asked who would do a better job representing them in Washington and these key issues, poll respondents gave Collins an edge over Hochul (between seven and 17 percentage points) on jobs, taxes and the deficit.

They gave Hochul a 10-point edge on education and a five-point edge on Afghanastan.

The candidates were virtually tied – 42 percent for her, 44 percent for him – on health care.

Two other key data nuggets:

- NY-27 voters favor repealing the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) 56-40.

- Mitt Romney leads President Obama in the district by 12 percentage points, including a 13-point lead among independents, a key swing voting block.

Nearly 9 in 10 Collins voters are with Romney, while three-quarters of Hochul voters are supporting Obama.

However, nearly 1 in 5 Hochul voters currently supports Romney for president, which means she has crossover appeal – a necessary trait if she’s to have any hope of holding this +7 GOP district.

- Voters are divided along party lines on whether to extend or eliminate the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000. Independents are almost evenly split.

Neither candidate’s campaign seemed particularly surprised by Siena’s results, even though it did not mirror a recently released GOP poll that showed Collins far out in front of Hochul, 47-34.

Collins told the Buffalo News he had always expected this race to be a “dog fight,” and expects to be up on the air “very soon” with TV ads aimed at improving his name recognition outside Erie County.

Hochul’s campaign manager Frank Thomas said he considered it a positive development that the candidates are within spitting distance of one another despite the district’s GOP enrollment edge.

He also continued to stress Hochul’s independence from the Obama White House, while Collins continued to try to tie her ever tighter to the unpopular (in NY-27, anyway) president.

CD27 Aug 2012 Crosstabs