NYC support keeps Kathy Hochul ahead of Lee Zeldin by 17 points amid tight suburban race

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin has a three-point edge over Gov. Kathy Hochul among political independents in New York — but trails her 54% to 37% among likely voters overall, according to a Siena Poll released Wednesday.

But the poll, which has a 3.9% margin of error, shows a much tighter battle in the New York City suburbs between Democrats and Republicans.

Hochul is leading Zeldin in the suburbs 50% to 45% while suburbanites are evenly split 47% to 47% on the party they are supporting for Congress amid a half dozen competitive races on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

Republican attorney general nominee Michael Henry is leading incumbent Democrat Letitia James 47% to 44% as well among suburbanites, which the poll defines as residents of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Orange counties.

Other statewide races are tight in those areas, as well, despite the big leads enjoyed by Democratic incumbents overall thanks to their dominance of New York City where Zeldin received just 20% support in the poll.

Experts say he will need to increase that by 10 points to have a shot against Hochul, a Buffalo native who is down by just one point – 44% to 45% – upstate, where Republican gubernatorial candidates traditionally win big.

Rep. Lee Zeldin has a three-point edge over Hochul among independents.

Previous polls have shown Hochul with a lead ranging from single digits to more than 20 points.

Hochul led by 14 points in a Siena poll released in early August.

“Hochul has a commanding two-to-one lead, 61-29% with women, and has a narrow 48-44% lead with men. White voters side with Hochul by 10 points, Latinos by 25 points and blacks by 68 points,” pollster Steven Greenberg said.

Hochul and President Joe Biden have 53% approval ratings in the survey of 655 likely voters conducted Sept. 16-25 with 46% of respondents disapproving of Biden compared to 42% for Hochul.

Statewide Democratic Party candidates are all up by at least 16 points over their GOP challengers alongside a 54% to 39% edge in which party New Yorkers want in control of Congress next year.

AG James is leading Henry overall by 53% to 37% while U.S. Senate Chuck Schumer is ahead of former Newsmax host Joe Pinion 55% to 36%.

But no Democrat appears safer than 15-year incumbent Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a Nassau County native, who is 23 points ahead of challenger Paul Rodriguez with a nine-point edge as well in the suburbs.

A lack of name recognition appears to be dragging the GOP ticket from Zeldin on down.

Hochul has a 47-40% favorability rating, little changed from 46-41% in August. And the governor has a 53-42% job approval rating, little changed from 52-41%.

Zeldin has a 31-33% favorability rating, down a little from 31-28%, Greenberg said.

Congressman Lee Zeldin
Zeldin speaks at a press conference outside a McDonalds in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post

Zeldin appears unknown to roughly a third of the electorate, with the poll stating that 36% of respondents “don’t know” or “refused” to say whether they have a favorable impression of the Long Island congressman.

A 92% majority of likely voters said the same about Henry compared to 87% for Rodriguez and 88% for Pinion.

“Now, with fewer than six weeks until Election Day, those Republican challengers – underfunded compared to the Democrats — have their work cut out for them in a state with more than twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans, more independents than registered Republicans, and where the GOP hasn’t won a statewide election in 20 years,” Greenberg said.

A total of 30% of voters rated “economic issues” as the top issue in the race followed by “threats to democracy” at 22%, crime at 12%, “national gun policies” at 8% and abortion at 6%.

A 55% majority supports a $4.2 billion environmental bond act going on the November ballot while 26% oppose it.