NEW YORK (PIX11) – The race for New York governor has significantly tightened between Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, according to a new PIX11 News/Emerson College Polling/The Hill poll released Friday.

Just ahead of the start of early voting, Hochul leads her challenger 50% to 44%, with 4% of those polled still undecided and 2% planning to vote for a third-party candidate.

“Hochul’s been able to essentially hold her support,” explained Camille Mumford, of Emerson College Polling. 

The latest polling found Zeldin was able to “flip independent voters,” according to Mumford.

“Among independents, they have an 18-point break for Zeldin over Hochul now,” Mumford added.

When undecided voters were asked whom they were leaning toward, the poll found Hochul’s support increased to 52% while Zeldin’s remained at 44%.

In recent weeks, crime has persisted as a heated issue on the gubernatorial campaign trail. However, the PIX11 poll found the top issue for 33% of voters is the economy. Other important issues include threats to democracy (15%) and crime (13%).

On the controversial reform of New York’s bail laws, 57% of poll respondents said they believe bail reform has increased crime; 28% said it’s had no impact on crime; and 16% believe bail reform has decreased crime. 

Early voting begins on Saturday, Oct. 29 and runs through Nov. 6. Election Day is Nov. 8.

The Emerson College Polling/PIX11/The Hill New York poll was conducted Oct. 20-24, 2022. The sample consisted of very likely voters, n=1,000, with a Credibility Interval (CI), similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.02 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, party registration, education, region, and race/ethnicity based on 2022 turnout modeling. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, education, and race/ethnicity carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using cell phones via SMS-to-web, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines, and an online panel.