With just over a week until Election Day, Operation Counterweight in Upstate New York is approaching the moment of truth. Barring some big development, this likely will be our last update on the critical Upstate New York races.

Chris Collins is challenging incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul in this western NY district. Hochul won a special election in this Republican district (formerly NY-26) after a photo scandal forced the Republican out of office, and a fake Tea Party third party candidate split the vote in the special election. Roll Call rates it a toss up. The only recent public poll has it tied.

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As before, this analysis were prepared by a Cornell student who wishes to remain anonymous.

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Although widely viewed as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in Upstate New York, Kathy Hochul has held even in the polls with Chris Collins until recently. Last week, Collins’ campaign released a poll showing Collins ahead of Hochul by 7 points (5 point margin of error). While the accuracy of internal polling is easy to question and the most recent independent polling shows the candidates in a dead heat, there are fundamental reasons to believe that Collins is ahead.

Siena’s independent poll showing a dead heat was conducted almost entirely before the October 3rd presidential debate, but already showed a wide lead in the district for Romney, 51-42. In the Collins campaign polling, Romney’s lead moved up to 55% to Obama’s 41%. In a district this Republican, it seems reasonable to believe that the coattails from the Presidential race are having an effect.

Why is this race so close? A recent Wall Street Journal profile of Hochul suggests that Hochul’s “charming personality” makes her a particularly effective retail politician. She’s used Mediscare tactics and tried to connect Collins to outsourcing and free trade policies which don’t play well in the district.

Hochul has also run away from Obama as much as she possibly can, both supportive and critical of Obamacare at different times. The Buffalo News seems to have titled its debate recap correctly: “Hochul and Collins debate Obama.”