Zeldin surges ahead of Bishop in tight House race in Newsday/News 12 poll

Zeldin surges ahead of Bishop in tight House race, according to a Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll.

In the tight race for New York’s 1st Congressional District, State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) has surged ahead of Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), according to a Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll released Saturday.

Zeldin, who trailed Bishop by 10 points in a poll conducted last month, now leads 50 percent to Bishop’s 45 percent, boosted by increasing support from independents and third-party voters. Five percent of the 670 likely voters surveyed by phone from Oct. 26 to 29 said they were undecided or had no opinion.

With a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points, the race could swing in favor of either candidate, said Donald P. Levy, director of the Siena Research Institute.

To see raw data, click here.

Who would you vote for today between Tim Bishop and Lee Zeldin?

“Is this race over? By no means,” Levy said. “Bishop is the incumbent, he’s won close races before. From our perspective this is an interesting race … it certainly looks as though it’s going to be close. Right now we are seeing Zeldin receive meaningful support from independents.”

Zeldin’s support among independents and third-party voters has increased 18 points, while Bishop’s has dropped 16 points since a benchmark poll was conducted Sept. 7 to 11. Among independents and third-party voters, 54 percent of those surveyed said they planned to vote for Zeldin compared with 40 percent for Bishop.

Both candidates are virtually tied in their favorability rating among respondents — with 48 percent saying they had a favorable opinion of Zeldin compared with 47 percent for Bishop, but Bishop’s favorability rating dipped 7 points compared with last month, while Zeldin’s increased eight points.

Asked whether the country is on the right track or headed in the wrong direction, 66 percent of all respondents said the country is headed in the wrong direction — up six points from September. Among independents/third-party voters, 70 percent say the country is headed in the wrong direction, an 11 percent uptick from the last poll.

“Bishop is the incumbent, and that’s a bad number for an incumbent,” Levy said.

How likely would you say you are to vote for Tim Bishop or Lee Zeldin?

The East End congressional race has generated national attention, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and a host of outside political groups spending $15 million on outreach efforts — making the matchup the most expensive House race in New York and the eighth costliest in the country, according to campaign finance records.

In the past two weeks both candidates also have stumped alongside marquee political figures, including former President Bill Clinton headlining a rally for Bishop at Stony Brook University and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) campaigning with Zeldin at a Farmingville rally.

Levy said the race hinges on each party’s ability to draw voters out to the polls on Nov. 4 in a midterm election year when voters are historically less likely to turn out.

“This one will come down to a squeaker on election night,” Levy said. “It all depends on turnout, turnout, turnout.”

Regardless of your support, which candidate do you think has waged the more negative campaign?

Zeldin campaign manager Eric Amidon said the poll “reflects the momentum of our campaign and what we’ve seen among voters. After 12 years with the incumbent, voters know we need stronger leadership and representation in Washington if we want to change the direction our country is headed. Tim Bishop, a rubber stamp for Obama’s agenda, is not that person.”

Bishop campaign spokesman Evan Lukaske said the congressman “has a history of winning close races and knew this year would be no different, which is why he is focused on turning out Long Island voters who believe we should grow our economy by investing in a strong middle class.”

With both candidates flooding the district with TV ads and mailers, 38 percent of respondents said Zeldin was waging the more negative campaign compared with 33 percent who said Bishop was. Fourteen percent said both were waging a negative campaign, while 2 percent said neither and 13 percent had no opinion.

Thomas Vasak, 51, a Republican who lives in Farmingville, said he has voted for Bishop in the past, but currently refuses “to vote for any incumbent until they start making some differences.”

“He [Zeldin] is the alternative,” said Vasak, the owner of an elevator servicing company, on why he was switching to Zeldin.

Genevieve Gauvreau, 73, a Ridge Democrat, said she planned on voting for Bishop because his district office staff helped her resolve an issue with her Medicare coverage.

“Everyone knows, if you have a problem, go to Tim Bishop, he’ll help you, it’s a known thing in the community,” said Gauvreau, a retired health care worker.

With Tom Brune and Robert Brodsky