Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) has closed the gap in the polls on Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul in recent weeks, and the New York governor’s race was moved to a “toss-up” Saturday, according to RealClearPolitics.
The most recent change comes just a week after the polling data aggregator moved the race from “likely Democratic” to “leans Democratic.” Hochul led Zeldin by as many as 24 points, according to polling from August, and another poll in September showed the governor up by 17, but new data suggest the Republican candidate has remarkably made it a competitive race in deep blue New York.
“Our race was just moved to TOSS UP by RealClearNews!” Zeldin celebrated in a tweet on Saturday. “We have just 24 days to go until we FIRE Kathy Hochul & save our state. It’s not too late for Hochul to come out of hiding & do multiple debates with me across New York, starting immediately!”
New York makes the second governor’s race in a heavily Democratic state that has moved to “toss-up” in recent weeks. Last month, the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia moved its Crystal Ball rating for the Oregon gubernatorial race from “leans Democratic” to “toss-up.”
New York’s move to “toss-up” comes a week after a Trafalgar Group poll indicated that the race is neck-and-neck. One of the biggest reasons Hochul appears to be lagging among her own party and Zeldin is surging is the growing problem of crime in the state. Trafalgar Group chief pollster Robert Cahaly told The Daily Wire last week that crime is overwhelmingly the top issue for New York voters. “It’s the only state we’ve seen crime exceed the economy,” he said.
As Zeldin mentioned in his tweet, the Hochul campaign has not agreed to more than one debate that the governor wants to hold just two weeks before the election. In return, Zeldin refused to debate Hochul at all if she would not agree to more than one, meaning New Yorkers might not see the two gubernatorial candidates on stage together at all before the election.
“I am rejecting Kathy Hochul’s offer to one single debate at the very end of October,” Zeldin said during a virtual press conference, according to the New York Daily News. “I believe that it’s important for Kathy Hochul to come back with an offer to do multiple debates in multiple parts of this state.”
“I am not playing along with her games, I am not going to be playing along with this strategy that is an insult, disrespecting the voter of New York,” he added.
John Rigolizzo contributed to this report.