Hochul leads among Democrats, 80 percent to 12 percent, the poll shows. Among Republicans, Collins fails to run up the dominating margins Hochul does among her partisans, leading 74 percent to 21 percent. Collins, the former Erie County executive, has a slim, 6-point advantage among voters registered with neither party.
Both candidates are well-known -- and well-liked -- in the district. A majority of likely voters, 52 percent, have a favorable opinion of Hochul, compared to just 33 percent who view her unfavorably. Collins is viewed favorably by 48 percent, while a third have an unfavorable opinion of him.
Despite her popularity, Hochul faces stiff headwinds in her bid for a full term in Congress. President Obama is a shoo-in to capture the Empire State's 29 electoral votes, but he seems unlikely to win the 27th district and could end up as a millstone around Hochul's neck in the fall. Obama trails Mitt Romney by 12 points in the district, the poll shows. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who is expected to coast to reelection, leads by 8 points in the GOP-leaning district.
Hochul was first elected in a May 2011 special election, after disgraced Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y., resigned amid a sex scandal. Democrats made the Republican budget proposal passed by the House in early 2011 and championed by presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan a centerpiece of the campaign, particularly Ryan's proposals to change Medicare, the government's health insurance program for seniors. Hochul defeated Republican state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, 47 percent to 42 percent. A wealthy, self-funding candidate, Jack Davis, ran under the Tea Party ballot line, earning 9 percent of the vote -- along with Republicans' scorn for helping Democrats to flip the seat.
The Siena poll was conducted Aug. 12-14, surveying 628 likely voters.