The race for governor of New York is tightening quickly, as a new poll put Rep. Lee Zeldin within just four points of Gov. Kathy Hochul and a second poll indicated her larger lead was shrinking quickly.
Taken together, the new Siena College and Quinnipiac polls suggest a race that was once considered easy pickings for Democrats is now turning into one of the more competitive contests nationwide.
The Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday afternoon has Hochul up 50%-46% on Zeldin, by far the narrowest margin of any major poll so far this race.
“In the blue state of New York, the race for governor is competitive. 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,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Mary Snow said in a statement.
The poll gave Zeldin a 20-point edge among independent voters, and suggested he was neck-and-neck with the governor in the crucial downstate suburbs.
On the other hand, in the new Siena poll, Hochul still leads Zeldin by 11 points – but that same poll had her up 17 points at the end of September.
The biggest swing from poll to poll was among independent voters. The Sept. 28 poll had Zeldin up 45%-42% among independents, but Tuesday’s poll has that margin at 49%-40%, suggesting he is gaining support there at her expense . Hochul’s five-point lead among voters in the downstate suburbs also evaporated, and Zeldin now leads there by four points.
There was a sharp shift among Latino voters as well — Hochul still leads by 18 points in the new poll, but that was 25 points last month.
Hochul is also losing ground among Republican voters. The late-September poll had 17% of Republicans saying they intended to vote for the Democrat for governor; that’s down to 12% in the latest poll. (Zeldin also lost two points among crossover voters, with 10% of Democrats saying they now intend to vote for him.)
“Hochul maintains a double-digit lead and simply needs Democrats to vote. Simple in theory. Three weeks to go,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a news release.
Zeldin leads among men, suburban and upstate voters, and white voters, Siena found. (The poll also found the Jewish Zeldin leads among Catholic voters, while the Catholic Hochul overwhelmingly leads among Jewish voters.)
Hochul retains a commanding lead among NYC voters, Black voters, voters under 35 and lower-income voters, Siena said. She also has a +4 net favorability rating, the poll found, versus Zeldin’s -4 rating.
The Siena poll of 707 likely voters was conducted Oct. 12-14 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. The Quinnipiac poll of 1,617 likely voters was conducted Oct. 12-16 and has a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.