A new poll shows that Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin is running neck-and-neck with Democratic New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
The poll of 1,087 likely voters, conducted by the Trafalgar Group, found that Hochul is holding onto a razor-thin lead over Zeldin, 44.5% to 42.6%; Libertarian candidate Larry Sharpe holds 3.2% of the vote, and 9.7% are undecided. Hochul’s 1.9% lead is just within the poll’s margin of error, meaning Zeldin could be on track to pull off a major upset in a deep-blue state that has not elected a Republican to statewide office since 2002.
“We saw a few trends,” Trafalgar Group chief pollster Robert Cahaly told The Daily Wire in an interview. “She [Hochul] is not winning Democrats by nearly what she needs to win, and Zeldin is dominating with Republicans and independents.”
One of the biggest reasons why Hochul is lagging among her own party and Zeldin is surging is the growing problem of crime in the state. Cahaly told The Daily Wire 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.
Crime is especially important for people who live in and around New York City, even lifelong Democrats; their number one issue is crime, and they are voting for Zeldin because of it, Cahaly added. Voters especially want something to be done about soft-on-crime progressive prosecutors like Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “They believe that she has the power to remove these liberal DA’s, and she won’t, and that’s why they don’t like her,” said Cahaly.
“As long as crime stays on people’s radar screens, Kathy Hochul’s having issues,” he added.
In addition to crime, illegal immigration and the border crisis are weighing heavily on voters’ minds. “More and more people outside of border states are telling us they’re worried about fentanyl and someone they know being hurt from that,” and New York is no different, Cahaly said.
Earlier this week, New York City and State law enforcement officials and the DEA announced the arrest of a woman and the seizure of more than 15,000 brightly-colored rainbow fentanyl pills hidden in a box of Lego blocks, as The Daily Wire reported. Investigators found that the pills had originated from Mexican drug cartels.
Another reason the race is so close is because neither Republicans nor Democrats are spending large sums of money in the race. “When big money is spent, it changes things,” Cahaly said, noting that when the parties are spending big, candidates tend to focus more on personal attacks against each other. When they aren’t spending money, the election focuses much more on issues and the incumbent’s track record, and the issues are heavily against Hochul. However, the parties may be more inclined to spend as the race tightens, he said.
If the election were to be held next week, Cahaly speculated that Zeldin would lose just slightly, but he might have a different opinion closer to November. However, Cahaly urged poll readers not to draw conclusions about the rest of the country from this race, since it was very much about issues contained to New York. “It’s very much about New York issues because the crime is touching home so much,” Cahaly said.