Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin appears to have a fighting chance to take the lead in New York’s gubernatorial race, according to some polls. Zeldin is facing Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul this November.
A poll conducted last month by the Trafalgar Group, an independent polling firm, shows Hochul with slightly more than a 4% lead. The firm surveyed 1,091 New Yorkers likely to participate in the general election. The poll marks Hochul at 47.8%, Zeldin at 43.4%, 2.1% going to Libertarian Larry Sharpe, and 6.7% of respondents undecided.
The firm’s poll has a 2.9% margin of error, meaning Zeldin is closing in on Hochul with less than two months left in the campaign.
Hochul is campaigning for a full first term as governor. She served as lieutenant governor under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who stepped down after he was accused of sexual harassment, an accusation he denied.
Hochul assumed the state’s top office after Cuomo’s resignation and became the first woman to serve as governor of New York.
Zeldin served as a state senator for two terms before running for Congress in 2014. He has served in the U.S. House since winning that first election.
His gubernatorial running mate pick is a retired New York City Police Department deputy who is openly gay. If elected, she would become the state’s first openly gay lieutenant governor.
As Zeldin appears to be closing the gap, Hochul announced Monday that she will not extend the COVID-19 state of emergency. The state’s restrictive pandemic rules and response to COVID-19 has been a persistent point of criticism by Republicans.
Zeldin told the New York Post the polls are evidence he can win.
“With every new Hochul scandal, pro-criminal laws like cashless bail, DAs like Alvin Bragg refusing to enforce the law, and punishing taxes and an ever rising cost of living, New Yorkers are hitting their breaking point and getting more and more energized to fire Kathy Hochul and save our state,” he said.
However, other polls show Zeldin has a lot of ground to make up in the weeks ahead. An Emerson College poll posted last week shows a 15-point spread between Hochul and Zeldin.
Hochul’s double-digit lead is more aligned with historical expectations for a New York governor’s race. Although, Nate Cohn, The New York Times’ chief political analyst, cautioned that polls across the nation might be overstating Democrats’ strength.
Differences in polling and actual election results have become a concerning issue over the past few years. It remains to be seen if exaggerated Democratic support reported in national polls will also show up in the New York state gubernatorial race.