When unelected New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently told all 5.4 million registered Republicans in her state to move to Florida, I pointed to her statement as evidence that she is brimming with confidence that there is no possible way she could lose to a Republican in November. While that still may turn out to be the case, the picture is nowhere near as clear as it seemed to be a couple of months ago. In early August, a SurveyUSA poll had Hochul ahead of Republican Lee Zeldin by a whopping 52 to 28 margin. But this week, a Trafalgar poll dropped and they have Zeldin hot on Hochul’s tail, with the Governor’s lead dropping to a 47.8 to 43.4% advantage. That’s still outside the poll’s margin of error, but not by very much. So is this real? (NY Post)
Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is closing in on incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul in New York’s tightening gubernatorial race, a poll released Saturday found.
The survey, conducted by the independent Trafalgar Group, found Hochul with just a 4 percent lead over the Long Island congressman — a significant narrowing in a race that has seen Hochul with a lead of up to 24 points.
The poll of 1,091 likely general election voters, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, pegged Hochul at 47.8% — and Zeldin, at 43.4%, nipping at the Democrat’s heels.
It’s still entirely possible that this is just a rather extreme outlier and Hochul’s numbers will spring back in the next couple of surveys. After all, the RCP average still shows Hochul with a nearly 15-point lead even after this Trafalgar poll was factored in. But then again, all of those other polls were conducted well before her speech where she demanded that more than 5 million people leave the state.
Further, the SurveyUSA poll I mentioned above may have given Hochul a 24-point lead, but there were still 14 % undecided. If those undecided voters all started shifting in Zeldin’s direction, the race could actually be tightening considerably. If you see two consecutive polls, with similar results, that could translate into actual momentum.
I’m not even close to getting my hopes up yet because we’ve been burned too many times before. New York hasn’t elected a Republican governor since George Pataki’s third victory in 2002. And even that race was very close, with Pataki benefitting from an unexpectedly strong showing for a third-party candidate who drained votes away from the Democrat. The generic ballot has only gotten worse for New York Republicans since then. There would need to have been a massive sea change in a very short period of time for these latest figures to be real.
But I don’t think we can say that it’s flatly impossible. Crime in the state – particularly in New York City – has been out of control for a while now and the state is hemorrhaging residents. Hochul and her party have done nothing to fix the “bail reform” policies they instituted and a majority of New Yorkers see that as one of the leading drivers of increased crime rates. Taxes have continued to go up on a number of things, even as high prices make it harder for people to get by. Is it possible that the Democrats are finally losing support, even in the blue stronghold of New York City? Zeldin should do well in the upstate region, but he can’t win unless he can gain some significant traction in the Big Apple.
Put a bookmark on this race and we’ll come back to it in a few weeks. If we see one or two more surveys producing similar results, we could have an actual race on our hands. And the down-ballot races for both Congress and the state legislature might deliver some very unpleasant surprises for the Democrats if that turns out to be the case.