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Poll: Kathy Hochul takes early 14-point lead against gubernatorial challenger Lee Zeldin

Poll: Hochul takes early lead against challenger Lee Zeldin
Poll: Hochul takes early lead against challenger Lee Zeldin 02:17

NEW YORK - The first poll of the New York governor's race has Gov. Kathy Hochul taking an early lead over Rep. Lee Zeldin

CBS2's political reporter Marcia Kramer spoke to a political analyst, who says Hochul's edge is not insurmountable for her challenger. 

Just call it a slam dunk - Hochul swished a basketball into a basket at an event Tuesday, hoping she'll also be able to use the same scoring prowess in November. 

"I take every election very seriously. This is my 14th election. I always run like an underdog up until the very last minute," Hochul said. 

Hochul was talking about the first poll of the general election, which gave her a 14-point edge over Zeldin. The Siena Research Institute Poll has Hochul at 53%, Zeldin at 39%, with a margin of error plus or minus 3.5%. 

But there are warning signs. While Hochul has a commanding lead in New York City, Zeldin is leading in the suburbs and upstate, and independents narrowly tilt toward Zeldin 44-42. 

Zeldin took the fight to Hochul during a visit to a Flushing food pantry. 

"The top two issues right now to voters - crime and the economy. People want to feel safe on the streets. It doesn't matter what party you are," Zeldin said. 

Though New York is a blue state, experts say that with crime and the economy of major concern, it is possible for an anti-abortion rights Republican and ardent Donald Trump supporter like Zeldin to pull an upset. 

CUNY Professor J.C. Polanco agrees that Hochul's lead is "not insurmountable." 

"Especially when he's leading with independents by two points. Independent voters like me are not one-issue voters. We focus on the entire spectrum of things and, quite frankly, the issue of crime in New York City is impacting public sentiment and politics a great deal," Polanco said. 

Hochul's strategy has been to slam Zeldin on abortion, but political consultant Hank Sheinkopf says it's not getting the expected results. 

"We've had choice for people since 1970. New Yorkers know that. That's not the issue. The issue is getting control of our streets," Sheinkopf said. 

Voters say they have a lot on their minds. 

"Crime, lower taxes, get our city back to what it once was," said voter Carey Bernstein. 

"I'm scared to take the subway," another person said. 

"Well, certainly abortion rights," said another. "And spending huge amounts of money on a stadium upstate." 

Neither Hochul or Zeldin has pulled out their campaign bazookas yet - just wait until the fall. 

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