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COLUMN: Polls show Hochul’s lead is shrinking – What does that mean?

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  • Josh Durso 

Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial written by Josh Durso. He leads the news and content team at Have a question, lead, or comment? Send it to [email protected].

There have been several polls in recent days that put the contest between Democrat incumbent Kathy Hochul and Republican congressman Lee Zeldin closer than most anticipated it would be at this stage of October.

Two months ago Hochul had a double-digit lead. In fact, some polls had the incumbent with a 24-point advantage over her Republican challenger.

Things have changed.

The most-recent poll by SurveyUSA and News10NBC shows the race tightening up even more. Hochul has just a 6-point advantage over Zeldin there.

A Quinnipiac poll released earlier this week showed Hochul with just a 4-point advantage. Siena had Hochul carrying an 11-point lead. A Marist poll released one week ago gave Hochul an 8-point advantage.

What does it mean?

The context with all of these polls is fascinating. Mainly because Hochul is underperforming Democrats like Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. He’s favored significantly in all polls.

The issues voters are talking about in these polls breaks with what Democrats have been hammering. If Election Day were tomorrow, and Hochul lost, a neutral observer could easily blame Democrats’ spending most of their campaign time talking about issues that consistently polled at the bottom of the ladder.

While abortion was a hot topic in the spring and early-summer months, inflation and crime have far-and-away been the biggest polled issues over the last 30 days.

So, it makes sense that the candidate who isn’t talking about those issues is seeing some decline in polling popularity.

What are the takeaways?

There are two things to remember in New York.

1) A win is a win. If Hochul is successful in winning a full-term as governor – her margin of victory won’t have any impact on the way she governs. The state’s legislature is safely held by Democrats. And despite closer polling – Hochul remains in control.

2) A Zeldin victory doesn’t change New York overnight. The legislative makeup of New York is vastly different than the last time New York had a Republican governor. He would be met with immediate resistance from both chambers of the legislature.

What’s the bottom line?

Polls can be misleading. Mainly because they’re predictive. There are biases in polls. But polls are only accurate if the right batch of people turn out on Election Day (or in the run-up to it via early voting).

So, as I say each year around this time: Go vote. Go make a difference. Whatever that means for you.