Gov. Hochul holds 14-point lead over Zeldin three months before Election Day

Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office

With three months to go until election day, Gov. Kathy Hochul holds a 14-point lead over her Republican challenger Lee Zeldin by a margin of 53-39 percent.

In other races, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer holds a 21-point lead over Republican Joe Pinion, 56-35 percent, as does State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who leads Republican Paul Rodriguez 51-30 percent.

Democratic Attorney General Letitia James leads Republican Michael Henry, 50-36 percent, according to a new Siena College Poll of 806 likely New York state voters released this week.

Meanwhile, New York voters oppose the recent Supreme Court decision to overrun Roe v. Wade and eliminate the constitutional right to
abortion, 68-25 percent. By a 74-21 percent margin, voters say abortion should be “always” or “mostly” legal, as opposed to always or mostly illegal. Voters say they support a new state law expanding eligibility requirements for obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon — including background checks with character references and safety training, by 82-15 percent.

The Siena poll was conducted July 24 – July 28 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

“Less than 100 days until election day, Hochul has a solid 14-point lead over Zeldin, a reflection of the Democrats’ large enrollment advantage in New York. Hochul and Zeldin are both holding their parties, as she leads among Democrats 81-12 percent and he leads among Republicans 84-12 percent. Independents narrowly tilt toward Zeldin, 44-42%,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

 Lee Zeldin

“Hochul dominates in New York City, leading by nearly 50 points, while Zeldin has a slim three-point leads both upstate and in the downstate suburbs,” Greenberg said. “The gender gap is wide, as men are evenly divided, and women favor Hochul 59-33 percent. While white and Latino voters favor Hochul by 6 and 8 points, respectively, Black voters support Hochul 78-8 percent.”

Hochul has a 46-41 percent favorability rating this month among likely voters, compared to 46-37 percent in June among registered voters. Hochul has a 52-41 percent job approval rating, the first time Siena has asked Hochul’s “job approval,” replacing the previous “job performance” question. Zeldin now has a 31-28 percent favorability rating, with 41 percent either having no opinion or never heard of him.

“Hochul continues to be more well-known and liked than Zeldin, although she has not been able to raise her favorability rating over 46 percent. It has been between 42 percent and 46 percent every month since September, her second month as governor,” Greenberg said. “Zeldin’s name recognition certainly got a boost from his primary victory and for now both being the focus of Republican energy and the target of Democrats.

“Fourteen weeks is a long time in politics, and we know most voters don’t really begin to focus on elections till after Labor Day. Still, Hochul has an early — but certainly not insurmountable — lead. In fact, while Democrats have taken the last four gubernatorial elections, Zeldin’s current 14-point deficit matches the closest Republicans have come in those races, when Andrew Cuomo defeated Rob Astorino 54-40 percent in 2014. In August 2014, Cuomo led Astorino by 32 points, 58-26 percent,” Greenberg said.

Legislative Gazette file photo

In other statewide races, Sen. Chuck Schumer leads his challenger Joe Pinion 56-35 percent. Schumer has a 49-43 percent favorability rating among likely voters, down slightly from 50-40 percent among registered voters in June. Pinion has a 3-7 percent favorability rating, with 90 percent of state voters having no opinion or having never heard of Pinion.

“Schumer leads by 77 points with Democrats, while Pinion leads among Republicans by 63 points. Independents are virtually evenly divided,” Greenberg said. “Schumer leads by seven points in the downstate suburbs and five points upstate, outperforming fellow Democrat Hochul, who trails in both those regions by three points.”

Comptroller DiNapoli leads his Republican challenger Paul Rodriguez 51-30 percent. DiNapoli has a 22-11 percent favorability rating, with 67 percent who don’t know him or enough to have an opinion, little changed from 21-14-65 percent in June. Rodriguez has a 7-7-85 percent favorability rating.

“DiNapoli has been Comptroller for 15 years, winning the office three times, despite being largely unknown to most voters. Just a month before election day in 2018, 52 percent of voters didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion – yet he still led the field with more than four million votes, winning 67-31 percent,” Greenberg said.

Attorney General Letitia James leads challenger Michael Henry, 50-36 percent. James has a 43-29 percent favorability rating, up slightly from 40-28 percent in June. Henry has a 5-5-90 percent favorability rating.

“The race for AG, like the gubernatorial race, is closer than either the Senate or Comptroller races, largely because of independents, downstate suburbanites, and Latinos,” Greenberg said. “While James leads by 65 points with Democrats, Henry leads with Republicans by 58 points and has a 12-point lead with independents.”

“Although downstate suburban voters lean toward Schumer and DiNapoli by several points, they favor Henry by eight points,” Greenberg said. “It’s worth noting that Latino voters are solidly in Schumer’s camp, favor Hochul by eight points and tilt toward DiNapoli by two points, however, they give an edge to Henry, 44-36 percent.”

The poll also found that New York state voters want Democrats to maintain control of the U.S. House, largely down a party-line vote.

“No surprise in the generic congressional ballot, as 85 percent of Democrats want their party to maintain control of the House next year and 85 percent of Republicans want their party to retake control. Independents are closely divided and tilt Republican by two points. New York City is true blue, by 52 points, while the rest of the state is evenly divided,” Greenberg said. “As in all of the statewide races, there is a gender gap here as well, with men being closely divided and women supporting Democratic control by 28 points.”

Polling voters on non-election topics, Siena found that there is overwhelming support for abortions being legal following the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24.

“Prior to the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs, New Yorkers said they wanted the Court to uphold Roe 60-24 percent. Today, 68 percent say they oppose the decision to overturn Roe, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion,” Greenberg said. “Although a small majority of Republicans support the Dobbs decision, it is opposed by 89 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents, and at least of 62 percent of voters from every region, age group, gender, and race.

“Even stronger, is likely voters’ view that abortion should be always or mostly legal. That view is held by 88 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents and 50 percent of Republicans, as well as at least two-thirds of voters from every region, age group, gender, race, and religion,” Greenberg said.

Concerning a new round of gun control laws passed during a special session of the state Legislature this summer, Siena found that state voters overwhelmingly support new requirements for concealed handgun carry permits in New York.

“Support for the new law expanding eligibility requirements to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon – background checks with character references and firearms safety training courses – is through the roof with all demographic groups. In fact, the ‘lowest’ support is with conservatives, who favor the new law 71-27 percent,” Greenberg said. “There is also strong support for prohibiting concealed weapons in sensitive locations, 60-34 percent, and requiring private businesses to have a sign if they allow concealed weapons on their premises, 63-32 percent.”

In other poll questions, Siena found that only 19 percent of New York state voters think the U.S. is headed on the right track – tied for the worst it’s ever been, matching October 2013 and October 2008 – compared to 71 percent who say the country is headed in the wrong direction,
down from 25-68 percent in June.

The question on whether New York state is on the right track or wrong direction is currently 36-50 percent, unchanged from 37-51 percent in June, with half of the state’s voters saying New York is headed in the wrong direction.

President Joe Biden has a break-even 48-48 percent favorability rating among New York voters, down slightly from 49-46 percent in June. His job approval rating is 47-51 percent, with 72 percent of Democrats approving of the job he’s doing, while 88 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of independents disapprove of the job Biden is doing.