A new Siena College poll shows Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul with a 14-point lead over Republican nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
When asked who they’d “vote for today” if Hochul and Zeldin were the candidates for their respective parties, 53% of respondents said they’d vote for the governor while 39% said they would vote for Zeldin.
Another 7% said they “don’t know” or had no opinion and 2% said they would not vote for governor at all.
“Hochul dominates in New York City, leading by nearly 50 points, while Zeldin has slim 3-point leads both upstate and in the downstate suburbs,” pollster Steven Greenberg said.
Political experts say a pathway to victory for Zeldin requires winning at least 30% of the vote in Democrat-dominated New York City while winning big in the surrounding suburbs and upstate.
The incumbent governor is up in every demographic category based on race, age and income in the survey of 806 likely voters conducted July 24 to July 28.
Women are favoring Hochul by a whopping 26 points while Hochul and Zeldin have 46% support each among men.
While 36% of New Yorkers believe the Empire State is heading in the right direction, just 19% say they same about the country – an all-time high that could help Republicans like Zeldin campaign on such issues as historically high inflation.
New Yorkers are split on Democratic President Joe Biden, who is rated as favorable and unfavorable by 46% of respondents to the Siena poll.
The results of the poll are similar to a separate survey released Tuesday morning by Emerson College Polling, which showed Hochul with a 16-point edge over Zeldin, with similar margins separating the candidates in New York City and other regions of the state.
While Zeldin appears to be falling short of his electoral targets, he appears better positioned at this point in the race compared to other recent GOP nominees.
A 2018 Siena poll showed Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican, was 22 points behind Democratic incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo weeks after they won their respective party primaries, held in September that year.
“While Democrats have taken the last four gubernatorial elections, Zeldin’s current 14-point deficit matches the closest Republicans have come in those races, when Andrew Cuomo defeated Rob Astorino 54-40% in 2014. In August 2014, Cuomo led Astorino by 32 points , 58-26%,” Greenberg said in the press release.
But Zeldin has ground to make up if he wants to replicate the success of George Pataki, the last Republican to serve as governor.
Republican challenger George Pataki led Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo by 3 points statewide – with an 11-point edge in New York City – in an October 1994 poll conducted by The New York Times/WCBS-TV News ahead of Pataki’s upset victory over the three-term incumbent that November.
Other GOP candidates on the statewide ticket in November 2022 appear to face even longer odds than Zeldin of becoming the first Republican to win a statewide election since Pataki won his third term in office in 2002.
US Sen. Chuck Schumer and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli have 21-point leads in their respective races against Republican nominee Joe Pinion, a former Newsmax host, and banker Paul Rodriguez, according to the Siena poll.
State Attorney General Letitia James is 14 points ahead of commercial litigator Michael Henry in her own reelection bid.
Hochul has raised more than $34 million in her bid to become the first woman to get elected governor after taking over last August for ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned amid multiple scandals.
Campaign finance disclosures filed in mid-July show her with $11.7 million on hand to spend for the campaign ahead compared to $1.6 million for Zeldin.
In recent months, she has campaigned heavily on abortion rights and gun control following controversial decisions by the US Supreme Court that might be weighing down Republicans’ chances in the Empire State this November.
“Although a small majority of Republicans support the Dobbs decision, it is opposed by 89% of Democrats, 60% of independents, and at least of 62% of voters from every region, age group, gender, and race,” Greenberg said in reference to the recent SCOTUS decision on abortion.
“Support for the new law expanding eligibility requirements to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon – background checks with character references and firearms safety training courses – is through the roof with all demographic groups,” he added about new state laws passed following another ruling striking down long time New York rules on carrying concealed weapons.