Governor Kathy Hochul has a whopping 24-point lead over Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin with 11 weeks to go until Election Day, according to a new poll released Tuesday.
The incumbent Democrat had 55% support among likely voters in the poll conducted between Aug. 17-22 by SurveyUSA on behalf of WNYT-TV in Albany. 31% supported Zeldin and 14% said they were undecided.
The 24-point margin is Hochul’s biggest lead over Zeldin in any survey since the congressman won the June 23 Republican primary. Polls taken last month by Emerson College and Siena College showed the governor leading by 16 and 14 points, respectively. Earlier this month, Republican pollster John McLaughlin released a survey showing Hochul ahead by just 8 points.
There was good news for Zeldin in the survey, with 33% of voters saying fighting inflation was the most important issue when deciding their vote for governor. Health care and criminal justice reform trailed far behind at 12% each.
“Lee Zeldin has 10 weeks to bring Governor Hochul to less than 50% and the issues that voters identify as most concerning to them are on his side,” GOP political consultant Bill O’Reilly told the Post. “Ms. Hochul’s financial advantage is growing though, and that must be worrying for the Zeldin campaign.
Zeldin leads his Democratic rival by 69 points among Republicans and 36 points among Conservatives while Hochul led among all other demographic groups, according to the poll.
In the SurveyUSA poll, political independents split their support 46% to 31% in favor of the governor, while self-styled moderates split for her 49% to 30%.
The two candidates are nearly even among gun-owning households, with Hochul getting 41% support in that demographic compared to Zeldin’s 40%.
Zeldin spokeswoman Katie Vincentz criticized the survey, pointing out that she predicted a narrow victory for Zeldin in the primary, which her congresswoman won by 19 points.
“Our sounder, John McLaughlin, is currently tracking the race by an 8-point difference,” Vincentz told The Post in an email Tuesday.
“This is a rescue mission to save our state and losing is not an option,” she added.
Zeldin campaigned on economic and criminal justice issues like opposing bail reform while Hochul focused on abortion rights, gun control and Republican votes against bail. certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election in certain states.
“The more people notice that Lee Zeldin is a Trump-backed Republican hardliner who voted against election certification, the better it is for Kathy Hochul,” Democratic political consultant Evan Stavisky told the Post on Tuesday.
But just 10% of those polled ranked abortion as the top issue for them in the gubernatorial race, while a further 9% said ‘guns’ – suggesting these issues could have a use limited for Hochul during the election campaign.
If Zeldin is to win an unlikely victory, experts say he’ll need to secure at least 30% of the vote in the Democratic stronghold of New York while making big margins in the suburbs and upstate.
Tuesday’s poll showed the congressman with 22% support in New York, with Buffalo-born Hochul leading by eight points in upstate and 17 points in suburban New York.
By comparison, the Siena College poll showed Zeldin with 21% support in all five boroughs and a three-point lead in Upstate and suburban New York.
Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by about two to one in the Empire State and Hochul said he has $11.7 million in hand after his June primary victory, up from just $1.57 million for Zeldin, according to campaign records.
A Hochul spokesperson declined to comment.
The SurveyUSA poll was conducted among 715 likely New York voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.