Rep. Lee Zeldin is trailing Gov. Kathy Hochul by wider margins in public polls — including a new Siena survey — but a new internal campaign poll has him within six points of the Democratic incumbent.
And the Republican says it shows he can pull off an upset.
“The reality is — this race is just a few points that are separating us,” Zeldin said after the Wednesday morning release of the Siena College poll showing him down 54% to 37%.
The internal polling, shared by his campaign with The Post, shows Hochul with 50.7% support compared to 44.9% support for Zeldin, with 4.4% undecided.
The poll, which had a 3.4% margin of error, showed Zeldin with 32.1% support in New York City (a key threshold for Republican candidates running statewide) with a 51.1% to 44.9% lead in the surrounding suburbs.
Zeldin is ahead 52.1% to 44.9% on his native Long Island with a 51.1% to 44.9% edge in the rest of the state, according to the survey of 800 likely general election voters conducted by McLaughlin & Associates Sept. 21-25.
The sum total of the numbers is that the race is much more competitive than public polling suggests, according to Zeldin.
“I don’t know if you have any pets, Marcia, and if you do, if they’re potty trained,” the Long Island pol told CBS-2 reporter Marcia Kramer while getting grilled about the survey. “But that Siena poll would be good to use for that purpose. It could go in the fireplace. It is just not accurate.”
The incumbent Democrat has leveraged a huge war chest in her effort to crush Zeldin at the polls, including a statewide ad barrage that began weeks ago.
But Zeldin insisted Wednesday that outside groups like Save Our State, a super PAC backed by campaign supporters, might level the playing field against Hochul.
“Hopefully, throughout the remainder of the final six weeks that remain, we will be able to continue to outspend the governor,” he told reporters in New York City Wednesday.
A Republican has not won a statewide election in New York since 2002 when former Gov. George Pataki clinched his third term in office after unexpectedly beating Democrat Mario Cuomo in 1994.
“And oh, by the way, in 1994, at the end of that race, there were six public polls that were done. And all six public polls had Mario Cuomo beating George Pataki,” Zeldin said Wednesday.