Shock poll shows Hochul, James in trouble in New York

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

It’s the second poll in recent days from Trafalgar Group that finds Republicans running unexpectedly strong races in deep blue states. Yesterday I shared another Trafalgar poll from Washington State showing Republican Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley trailing incumbent Democrat Patty Murray by just two points, and now the polling outfit has released a new survey of more than 1,000 likely voters in New York showing incredibly tight races for governor and attorney general.

According to the survey results, Republican challenger Lee Zeldin trails Gov. Kathy Hochul 42-44, with 9-percent of voters still undecided. The news is even worse for Attorney General Letitia James, who trails Republican Michael Henry by a single point, 44-45.

The survey’s results are not exactly in line with most polling in the state, however. The RealClearPolitics polling average in the NY governor’s race shows Hochul with an average lead of more than 11-points, which points more to a blowout victory for Hochul than a real horserace. Still, Trafalgar has a solid polling reputation, so perhaps they’re picking up on trends that other outfits aren’t seeing.

If Hochul and James really are in electoral peril, there’s no doubt in my mind that their continued hostility towards the right of the people to keep and bear arms is one of the big reasons why. The new gun control laws rammed through the state legislature after the Supreme Court struck down the state’s “may issue” concealed carry laws may be popular in New York City, but the farther away you get from the Big Apple, the more opposition you find. Many county legislatures have passed resolutions condemning the new laws, and some are even talking about banding together to sue the state.

A flood of Jefferson County residents showed up at Tuesday’s county Board of Legislators meeting, almost all there to express their support of the county’s resolution to oppose New York state’s most recent gun safety laws.

Passions flared among some of the legislators as well, with suggestions of the county seceding from New York state mentioned on the floor as well.

At one of the most well-attended county meetings in months, all the seats were filled with people apparently intent on expressing their disdain for the “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” signed into law this summer by Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul.

The county board was considering a resolution that would express the legislature’s official disapproval of this law, and states that the county will oppose the law in court.

The concealed carry law, which changed many aspects of the state’s concealed carry permits and the regulations around where guns can be carried, has proven to be unpopular with conservatives and gun owners. At Tuesday’s meeting, nearly a dozen residents, including local officials, retired law enforcement, veterans, Jefferson Community College professors, gun shop owners and gun safety instructors spoke up to denounce the various aspects of the law.

Pamela Desormo, the Watertown town clerk, requires a wheelchair. She said she got a concealed carry permit once she started needing the chair, and fears for her safety if she doesn’t have her weapon.

“I pray I never have to use my firearm, but I am prepared if the need arises,” she said to the board on Tuesday. “If there was an active shooter situation, most people can run and hide, they can lay on the floor, but I’m pretty much a sitting duck for anybody there if that was to happen.”

You can find similar stories all across the state, and if those ticked-off Second Amendment supporters show up in force at the polls, they could produce an Election Day surprise for anti-gun Democrats that would send shockwaves throughout the political establishment. We saw something similar just last year in Virginia, a state that’s supposedly been trending blue for decades. Republicans ended up running the table last year, winning all three statewide offices and gaining control of the state House of Delegates as well. One of the keys to Republican victory was the rural turnout, which was both higher and more Republican in 2021 than in other recent elections. One of the big reasons why rural turnout was so much higher than in the past was the Democrats’ push for gun control in 2020, when they tried (and failed) to enact a ban of so-called assault weapons in addition to putting several new gun control restrictions on the books. That absolutely incensed rural Virginians, and they turned out at historically high levels to vote the following year.

New York gun owners have even more reasons to be furious with lawmakers for their refusal to recognize the right to bear arms in self-defense, and if we see the same high turnout and lopsided margins in rural parts of the state (as well as decreased support for Democrats in the suburbs) then Election Day could produce some major surprises in the Empire State. Gun owners are definitely in an uphill fight, but today’s poll offers at least some evidence that victory is still within reach.