The race for governor of New York looks to be narrowing, according to a pair of surveys published on Tuesday, the latest evidence of increased momentum for Republicans attempting to pull off an upset in a state that is overwhelmingly Democratic.
According to a Siena College survey issued on Tuesday morning, incumbent Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul’s advantage against Republican Representative Lee Zeldin has shrunk to 11 percentage points, down from 17 points a month ago. A Quinnipiac University survey conducted hours later indicated an extremely closer race, with Ms. Hochul ahead by by four percentage points.
The narrowing gap suggested that New York voters were becoming more concerned about the state’s direction — much as recent national polling has indicated that the economy and persistent inflation remain top-of-mind concerns, as Republicans have increased their lead over Democrats ahead of the midterm elections in November.
In the Quinnipiac survey, people, particularly Republican and independent voters, named crime as the most pressing problem confronting the state, followed by inflation and democracy protection.
The Siena survey indicated that although 61% of Democrats said New York was moving in the right way, 87% of Republicans and the majority of independent voters believed the state was headed in the wrong direction.
In a state where no Republican has won a statewide election since 2002, Ms. Hochul leads Mr. Zeldin, a Republican, by what looks to be a substantial margin, according to the majority of surveys.
Ms. Hochul led Mr. Zeldin by 10 points among registered voters and eight points among likely voters, according to a separate poll conducted by Marist College last week. According to an average of over a dozen polls published by FiveThirtyEight, an opinion poll analysis website that considers a poll’s quality and political lean, Ms. Hochul looks to have a roughly 10-point advantage.
Ms. Hochul and Mr. Zeldin have intensified their assaults in the closing stretch, portraying each other as members of their party’s most extremist wings and pressing down on the broad themes that have characterised the campaign. Ms. Hochul has sought to depict Mr. Zeldin as a danger to the state’s tight abortion rights, while Mr. Zeldin has attacked the governor’s policies for contributing to New York’s growing crime rate and expense of living.
Former President Donald J. Trump publicly backed Mr. Zeldin, one of his first backers in Congress, over the weekend, giving the race a boost. Mr. Trump, who had earlier solicited contributions for Mr. Zeldin, lauded the candidate as “amazing and smart” in a post on his social media site, Truth Social.
In New York, where Mr. Trump remains very unpopular, Democrats moved swiftly to capitalise on the support, launching an advertisement highlighting Mr. Zeldin’s strong links to the former president, such as his vote against certifying the 2020 election.
The congressman, who is attempting to make inroads among centrist voters and disgruntled Democrats, said on Monday that Mr. Trump’s official endorsement “shouldn’t have been news.”
Much of the disparity between the two surveys issued on Tuesday seems to be attributable to conflicting predictions of voter turnout.
Siena’s sample assumes that 47 percent of all registered voters will be Democrats, 31 percent will be Republicans, and 17 percent would be independents or members of a third party. In contrast, Quinnipiac predicts that just 39% of voters would be Democrats, 24% will be Republicans, and 36% will be independent or third-party supporters.
The Siena poll, which polled over 700 potential voters last week and had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points, and the Quinnipiac poll both indicated that Ms. Hochul and Mr. Zeldin have a strong grip among party supporters.
The Quinnipiac poll, which surveyed more than 1,600 potential voters last week and had an error margin of 2.4 percentage points, indicated that Mr. Zeldin led Ms. Hochul by 20 percentage points among independent voters, 57 percent to 37 percent. Mr. Zeldin increased his advantage among these voters by nine percentage points, according to the Siena survey.
According to the Siena survey, the governor continues to have a strong lead in New York City, with a 70 percent to 23 percent advantage against Mr. Zeldin among women, Black, and Latino voters. The Quinnipiac survey, however, indicated that Mr. Zeldin would get 37% of the vote in New York City, the liberal bastion of the state for Democrats.
Mr. Zeldin led Ms. Hochul in upstate New York by 49 percent to 45 percent, according to the Siena survey, and by a margin of error-compliant one percentage point in the Quinnipiac poll.
To put together a victorious alliance, Mr. Zeldin would need to make considerably wider inroads across the globe despite his advances. New York’s political terrain is tilted against him, since Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters by a ratio of two to one.
Even while Mr. Zeldin is getting substantial backing from Republican-affiliated super PACs dumping money into the campaign, it seems doubtful that he will be able to overcome Ms. Hochul’s substantial fundraising lead.
The governor has maintained an intensive fund-raising pace in order to finance the multimillion-dollar onslaught of television advertisements she has launched against Mr. Zeldin.
Until very recently, however, Ms. Hochul mostly eschewed openly political events such as rallies and other retail politics in which she interacts directly with people. In contrast, Mr. Zeldin has used an aggressive ground strategy, traversing the state in a truck emblazoned with his name and the phrase “Save our State.”
Jerrel Harvey, a spokesperson for the Hochul campaign, said in a statement released on Tuesday that a majority of New Yorkers still supported the governor and that the Quinnipiac survey “significantly undercounted Democrats.”