Pol Position: Zeldin is making the race close

While New York is traditionally seen as a blue state, Long Island Representative Lee Zeldin seems to be making a real push for the governor’s race against Democratic incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Zeldin came out strong in the first half of last Tuesday’s NY1 debate against Governor Kathy Hochul – sticking to his usual stump of “saving the state” by repealing bail reform and instituting tax cuts. 

For the first twenty or so minutes, Hochul seemed asleep at the wheel, playing the defensive while Zeldin acted like he shotgunned a can of Monster.

The debate focused on major issues like crime (which multiple polls ahve shown is the top concern on New York’s mind), abortion, affordable housing, gun control and more. 

While Zeldin came out strong in the first half, Hochul was able to bounce back putting Zeldin in a bind over whether he supported Donald Trump (his answer waffled on working with Donald Trump on issues) and attacking Zeldin on his abortin record (which is smart politics for Hochul, trying not to hemorrhage support of liberal women concerned about crime.)

Overall Zeldin stayed on the offensive all night and it worked for him – clearly winning the debate.In recent years, there have been questions about the effectiveness of polls and if they have any real bearing on swinging undecided voters. While Zeldin can make clips out of them to post to social media, it’s not clear whether it will help move the needle for him. 

Regardless of the debate’s effect, polling has shown that the race is tighter than most would have imagined over the last two months. While the polls differ in voting spreads, they all show a tightening race.

Emerson College had Hochul leading by 15 percent in September, while their October poll had her only up by 7 percent. Sienna College had Hochul leading by 17 percent in September but their October poll has Hochul leading by 11 percent. And Quinnipiac’s sole October poll has Hochul only leading by 4 percent. 

Even though the polls differ they all show that Zeldin is making a closer play than republicans have in recent years, where they fell behind 20 plus percent in the statewide vote. 

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