Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is down by just six points against Gov. Kathy Hochul in two new polls released Friday, as her electoral struggles continue ahead of the first day of early voting on Sunday.
In a poll by the left-leaning Slingshot Strategies released in the morning, the incumbent governor led 48% to 42%, with 24% of voters ranking crime as their top issue alongside 14% for inflation and 10% for gun violence.
“We do see a genuine enthusiasm gap where Zeldin actually leads with the most likely voters to turn out,” Slingshot pollster Jeff Coote told reporters.
He noted that Democrats ought to worry that Hochul had just 52% support among union households compared to 40% for her GOP rival while also getting just 67% of Black voters against Zeldin, who reached a critical threshold of getting at least 30% support in New York City.
The poll of 1,000 likely voters, which had a margin of error of 3.1%, was not the only sign that Hochul’s position with voters is continuing to slide following her Wednesday debate against Zeldin.
A second poll released hours later by PIX11 News/Emerson College Polling/The Hill found Hochul with a 50% to 44% lead against Zeldin, who has gained roughly 10 points in the polls while using voter concerns on public safety and rising prices to bash Hochul, whose campaign largely ignored his attacks in recent months.
Her campaign declined to comment Friday about the two polls.
The Democratic incumbent had a 15-point lead in a September poll released by PIX11 News/Emerson College Polling/The Hill poll, which found her with a 50% to 35% lead over Zeldin before independent voters began swinging towards Zeldin.
Male independents are supporting Zeldin by a 58% to 37% margin while independent women split their support 46% to 45% in favor of the Long Island pol in the survey of 1,000 very likely voters ahead of the final day of voting on Nov. 8.
“The energy, the momentum is real, and it’s not Republicans filling up the seats – it’s Republicans and Democrats and independents,” Zeldin said at a campaign stop in Brooklyn where he received the endorsement of the 3,900-member Subway Surface Supervisors Association following the Thursday hijacking of an MTA bus.
“The people in government need to have the backs of their riders and the people in government need to take back our streets and restore safety,” Zeldin added.
The new Emerson poll found that 33% of voters rank the “economy” as the top issue in his race against Hochul compared to “threats to democracy” with 15%, crime with 13% and abortion with 11%.
A total of 57% of voters blamed controversial changes to cash bail laws for contributing to increasing crime while 28% said it has no effect and 16% more said it led to a decrease in offenses.
A 46% to 36% plurality said the Empire State ought to block more migrants from coming from other states while 19% had no opinion on the matter, according to the Emerson poll.
Hochul touted the seizure of 8,000 illegal guns over the past year while defending her record on crime following a Friday event in Queens where she announced the creation of the Office of Resilient Homes and Communities as part of efforts to battle climate change on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
“I’ve always said I was an underdog. I’ve been in the job a short time,” Hochul, who replaced disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo following his resignation last year, told reporters.
“People in Queens know me, they know me in Far Rockaway they know me in every corner of the state. So it’s just about getting the message out about what I’ve been able to do as governor for the last year,” she said.