The New York governor’s race has moved to the “toss-up” category as Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin closes the gap against Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul.
A RealClearPolitics average of polls taken between Sept. 30 to Oct. 12 shows Mrs. Hochul’s lead over Mr. Zeldin has shrunk to 5.3% — with 7% who are undecided voters.
Mr. Zeldin trailed Mrs. Hochul by 17 points just a few weeks ago, according to a Siena College poll. But more recent polls have shown the gap narrowing, including a survey by Marist that showed the Republican challenger 10 points behind and a Schoen Cooperman Research poll that showed Mrs. Hochul with a 6-point lead over the Long Island congressman.
“We have just 24 days to go until we FIRE @KathyHochul & 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!” Mr. Zeldin tweeted along with an image showing the race shifting from “lean Democrat” to “toss up.”
The New York gubernatorial race is different this year because, for the first time in more than 75 years, the ballot will have only two options: the Republican nominee, Mr. Zeldin, and the Democratic nominee, Mrs. Hochul. There is no third-party candidate.
This is a result of changes made to election law two years ago by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that made it more difficult for third-party candidates to get on the ballot.
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Mr. Zeldin is running on a law-and-order campaign and has promised to fire Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is often criticized for being soft on crime, as one of his first acts if elected.
Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, said “any shift in crime” will likely boost Mr. Zeldin in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Former New York Rep. Peter King, a Republican, told WABC’s John Catsimatidis on Sunday that the race will remain tight as a result of crime in the state.
“Kathy Hochul will have tens of millions of dollars at her disposal and to spend against Lee, but I think [a Zeldin victory] can be done. And it’s primarily I think, because of the law and order issue,” Mr. King said. “The fact that such a breakdown in society, the fact that people are afraid to walk the streets.”
The Washington Times spoke to New York voters in Westchester and St. Lawrence counties about both candidates. While Republicans focused on crime, the economy and the southern U.S. border, Democrats felt it was necessary to keep Mrs. Hochul, whom they say better represents the deep blue state.
“I think it’s relevant to the nation overall. I know it’s not Congress or the Senate, but there needs to be an accurate representation of what we are as a state,” said a Mamaroneck resident who gave her first name as Regina.
Mrs. Hochul will likely have support in the Democratic enclaves of Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Scarsdale, Rye and Harrison. But as of mid-October political lawn signs, business signs and bumper stickers were non-existent in the area. Many residents said they were unaware of an election on Nov. 8.
“Did you see a Hochul sign on the New York Thruway? You do not see a Hochul sign,” said Russell Finley, a Republican of Lisbon, New York. “So this is why I’m saying she’s neglected all upstate.”
Although registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans two to one in the state, Republicans are counting on disaffected Democrats to join independents to cross over and vote for Mr. Zeldin quietly, or to not bother voting.
Republican voters in Westchester County listed issues dragging down Democrats nationwide this election cycle.
“Our 401k’s are down by 25%. There’s inflation. There’s the border — that’s probably the most important to me. You’ve got millions of people coming over here getting all kinds of services free of charge,” said a New Rochelle senior citizen who gave his first name as Sal. “You have crime. You have health insurance or health costs. You have food and housing costs. It doesn’t take an intellectual giant to figure out we’re in trouble.”