Election 2022: Hochul leads Zeldin in race for governor, new poll says

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, holds an early 14-point lead over Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in Siena College's first public poll of the general election cycle. With three months until November, Hochul leads Zeldin 53-39%.

"Hochul has an early — but certainly not insurmountable — lead," Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said. "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% in 2014. In August 2014, Cuomo led Astorino by 32 points, 58-26%."

Hochul is leading among Democrats 81-12% and Zeldin is leading among Republicans 84-12%. Among likely New York City voters, Hochul holds an almost 50-point lead, 70-21%. But Zeldin is leading narrowly in the suburbs by 46-43% and leading among likely upstate voters by 48-45%. Independents are also leaning toward Zeldin, 44-42%.

"The gender gap is wide, as men are evenly divided, and women favor Hochul 59-33%," Greenberg said. "While white and Latino voters favor Hochul by six and eight points, respectively, Black voters support Hochul 78-8%."

Among polled New Yorkers, Hochul has a 46-41% favorability rating this month, compared to 46-37% in June. 

Zeldin now has a 31-28% favorability rating, but with more people, 41%, either having no opinion or having never heard of him. This is up from 21-22% favorability rating, with 57% of people having never heard of him in June.

"Hochul continues to be more well known and liked than Zeldin, although she has not been able to raise her favorability rating over 46%," Greenberg said. "It has been between 42% and 46% every month since September, her second month as governor. 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."

Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer holds a 21-point lead over Republican Joe Pinion, 56-35%. 

Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is leading Republican Paul Rodriguez 51-30%.

And among likely voters, Democratic Attorney General Letitia James is leading Republican Michael Henry, 50-36%.

"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."

Polled likely voters were also asked if they support the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade with 89% of Democrats and 60% of independents opposing it; 51% of Republicans say they support the Supreme Court's ruling. 

However when asked if abortion should be "always or mostly legal," a majority of each party said "yes" with 88% of Democrats, 75% of independents and 50% of Republicans, as well as at least two-thirds of voters from every region, age group, gender, race, and religion saying they support abortions. 

Polled voters also responded that they support the state's new law, "expanding eligibility requirements to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon — background checks with character references and firearms safety training courses."

State lawmakers passed this legislation in an emergency session this summer in response to the Supreme Court striking down New York's concealed carry law. Lawmakers voted to define "sensitive areas" where guns are prohibited, which includes public transportation, Times Square, museums, and more. They also took steps to strengthen existing gun laws by banning gun permits for people with a history of dangerous behavior and updating the state's gun storage laws. 

"There is also strong support for prohibiting concealed weapons in sensitive locations, 60-34%, and requiring private businesses to have a sign if they allow concealed weapons on their premises, 63-32%," Greenberg said. 

Only 19% of 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. 71% say the country is headed in the wrong direction, up from 68% in June. 

Polled voters also say New York is headed in the wrong direction 50% compared with 36% saying it's headed in the right direction, mostly unchanged from June.

This Siena College Poll was conducted July 24-28, 2022, among 806 likely New York State voters, with a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points including the design effects resulting from weighting.