Republican Lee Zeldin is closing in on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul with just three weeks to go before Election Day, according to a pair of new polls released Tuesday.
A Quinnipiac University poll showed the Democratic incumbent with a 50-46% lead over Zeldin, a narrow, four-point margin in a heavily Democratic state that hasn't elected a Republican to statewide office in 20 years.
The size of the gap between the two candidates, however, is in dispute: Siena College issued a separate earlier Tuesday showing Hochul with an 11-point advantage, 52-41%, while a Marist College poll last week showed Hochul with an eight-point lead among likely November voters.
This much is clear: Hochul's lead appears to be narrowing as she tries to become the first woman elected governor in New York's history. A Siena poll just three weeks ago showed her with a 17-point advantage.
"In the blue state of New York, the race for governor is competitive," Quinnipiac polling analyst Mary Snow said in a statement. "Democrats have cruised to victory in gubernatorial races since 2006, but Governor Hochul's narrow edge puts Republican Lee Zeldin well within striking distance of her."
The key discrepancies in the two Tuesday polls are among independent voters, and those who live in New York City.
The Siena poll showed Hochul’s lead fueled entirely by New York City, where she led by a commanding 70-23% margin. Outside the five boroughs, Zeldin actually maintained a slight lead — 49-45% in Long Island and the city’s northern suburbs, and 48-44% in the rest of the state.
But Quinnipiac had the New York City margin considerably closer, with Hochul picking up 59% to Zeldin's 37%.
It's a similar story among voters not registered in a political party. In Siena's poll, Zeldin was up 49-40% among those voters; Quinnipiac has it at 57-37%.
Having a governor elected solely on the strength of the New York City vote isn’t unheard of. In 2014, Republican Rob Astorino edged then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo outside of the city. But it mattered little since Cuomo took home 77% of the New York City vote and won the statewide race by 14 points.
New York hasn't had a Republican governor since George Pataki ended his third term in 2006, giving way to four straight elections cycles in which Democrats swept the statewide races.
Zeldin has been keying in on issues of crime and inflation, while Hochul's campaign advertisements have, in part, focused on Zeldin's anti-abortion stance and his votes against certifying the 2020 presidential election.
Quinnipiac's poll found the issues Zeldin is focusing on are resonating with voters: Of those polled, 28% said crime is the most urgent issue facing New York today, and 20% said inflation. Meanwhile, 14% said protecting democracy is the top issue, and just 6% said abortion.
Among the other statewide New York races, Siena found U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader, with a 57-37% lead over Republican commentator Joe Pinion, while Quinnipiac had the race at 54-42%.
Siena also polled the two other statewide races, finding:
- Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, leading Republican attorney Michael Henry, 51-40%;
- Democratic Comptroller Tom DiNapoli leading his Republican opponent, Paul Rodriguez, 54-30%.
Siena polled 707 self-identified likely New York voters by phone between Oct. 12 and 14, according to the poll, which has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. Quinnipiac polled 1,617 likely New York voters by phone between Oct. 12 and 16, with a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.