Polls show AG race could come down to independent and undecided voters

Photo via facebook @LetitiaJamesforNY
New York State Attorney General Letitia James campaigning at a “pup parade” in Fort Green, Brooklyn on October 29, 2022.

Independent voters may be the deciding factor in the tightening Attorney General’s race between incumbent Democrat Letitia James and Republican challenger Michael Henry.

In a mid-October Siena poll, James was leading Henry 51 – 40 percent among likely voters. That was down from a Siena poll the month before, when James led Henry 53 – 37 percent.

And according to a poll by the Trafalgar Group conducted between September 30 and October 3, Henry actually leads James 45.4 – 44.4 percent among likely voters, with 10.2 percent still undecided.

Independent voters, according to the Siena and Trafalgar polls, may rock the boat come Election Day. 

Of the self identified independent voters 39 percent said they would vote for James and 49 percent said they would vote for Henry in October’s Siena poll, down one point for James from the September poll and up five for Henry putting him at a 10 point lead with the independents.

“Pinion, Henry and Rodriguez all face similar challenges: they remain unknown to the vast majority of voters, they are underfunded and they are running against incumbents who have won a combined eight statewide races,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in reference to the U.S. Senate, Attorney General, and state Comptroller Republican candidates, respectively.

“One of the main reasons Schumer and DiNapoli have wider leads than Hochul and James is independent voters. Independents favor Republicans Zeldin (9 points) and Henry (10 points), while favoring Democrats Schumer (8 points) and DiNapoli (12 points),” Greenberg noted.

Of all statewide races this election season, James and Henry were the only ones that did not have a debate. According to the Albany Times Union and New York Post, James officially declined an invitation from Spectrum’s NY1 news station to debate Henry this Wednesday.

James is the 67th Attorney General for the state of New York. She is also the first Black woman to hold New York Statewide office and the first female Attorney General. 

Henry is a commercial litigation attorney and has his own private practice based in New York City. Henry has not run for any public office prior to this upcoming election.  

Photo via facevook @michaelhenryforag
Former Gov. George Pataki, left, joins state attorney general candidate Michael Henry on October 20, 2022.

Though the polls suggest the race is close, when asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the candidates, the numbers were less competitive. Of the respondents, 42 percent found James favorable, 33 percent found her unfavorable, and 26 percent did not know or had no opinion. 

It was reported 91 percent said they did not know or had no opinion on Henry, with 5 percent finding him favorable and 4 percent finding him unfavorable, suggesting people were less familiar with Henry’s plans for office.

Amongst respondents that found James favorable, 64 percent were Democrats and 11 percent were Republican, 85 percent were Black, 48 percent Latino and 34 percent were White. Of the unfavorable vote 15 percent were Democrats,  57 percent were Republican and 61 percent conservative. 

When asked the polling question, “ If the 2022 election for Attorney General of New York was being held today, who would you vote for if the candidates were: Letitia James the Democrat, Michael Henry the Republican, another candidate, not going to vote, don’t know/ no opinion,” 81 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of Republicans selected James. 

Of the people who said they planned to vote for James, 90 percent identified as liberal, 60 percent moderate and 9 percent conservative. Of those, 66 percent were from New York City, 47 percent were White, 93 percent were Black and 46 percent were Latino.

Of the voters who said they planned to vote for Henry, they included 40 percent of all voters, 79 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of independents, 51 percent of male voters, 83 percent of conservative voters, 46 percent of those who live in the suburbs, 46 percent of White voters, 45 percent of Latino voters, 2 percent Black voters, and 46 percent of voters were between ages 35 – 54.

The October Siena poll of 707 likely New York state voters was conducted between October 12 -14 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. The Trafalgar poll surveyed 1,087 likely New York state voters and has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.