The New York gubernatorial race is heating up as Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul fights to keep her lead over Republican challenger Lee Zeldin. After the two contenders’ first and only scheduled debate on Tuesday, October 25, the incumbent might find herself suffering in the coming days as her comments on crime control reverberate among the city’s voters.
The New York Governor on Crime
While Hochul tried to limit the discussion to topics like abortion, Zeldin focused on the increased crime rate and New York’s Democrat-backed cashless bail policy. As Liberty Nation has previously related, “The NYPD released its September report, which showed an increase of 15.2% in the overall index compared to the same time last year. Of the major categories, burglary went up by 22.7%, grand larceny auto saw a 21.5% rise, and grand larceny rose 21.3%.” In his opening statement, Zeldin said New Yorkers were “less safe thanks to Kathy Hochul and extreme policies.”
Hochul highlighted her firearm control efforts, saying, “there is no crime-fighting plan if it doesn’t include guns.” Zeldin, who received a coveted endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police last week, argued her efforts have not addressed the uptick in other major crime areas, including the recent increase in subway incidents. He said that, despite being halfway through the debate, Hochul still wouldn’t talk about locking up people who commit offenses. Her response was a vague “Anyone who commits a crime, under our laws, especially with the change we made to bail, has consequences,” followed by this gem:
“I don’t know why that’s so important to you.”
While it sounds like criminal activity in the Empire State isn’t a top priority for Hochul, an October 18 Quinnipiac University survey suggests it should be. Polling analyst for the university, Mary Snow, explained:
“In the blue state of New York, the race for governor is competitive. Democrats have cruised to victory in gubernatorial races since 2006, but Governor Hochul’s narrow edge puts Republican Lee Zeldin well within striking distance of her.”
According to the poll results, crime is the most urgent matter among likely voters in the state (28%), with inflation (20%) and protecting democracy (14%) coming in second and third, respectively. When broken down by political affiliation, crime was the highest priority amongst 42% of Republicans and 31% of independents, making it the top issue for both demographics. Protecting democracy comes in at number one for Democrats, with 31% ranking it as their chief concern, but crime was chosen as most important by 18%, making it the number two issue even for the left.
“Across the board, crime ranks high on the list of pressing issues,” Snow explained. “Zeldin making crime a major part of his campaign could be where he’s making inroads in this race.”
Polling still shows the incumbent leading, but Zeldin has closed the gap. FiveThirtyEight gives Hochul a 50.1%-42.8% lead, and 270toWin has her winning 54% to 43%. But RealClearPolitics shows a tighter race, at 49.3%-43.2%. After the governor’s dismissal of crime as an issue, one wonders how long she can hold her lead.