BUFFALO, N.Y. — Former President Donald Trump announced his “complete and total endorsement” of gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin on Sunday morning via the social media platform Truth Social.
Some political experts say this endorsement might not have the impact Zeldin is looking for.
“You have to ask yourself the question: What good does the Trump endorsement do at this point?” political analyst Carl Calabrese said.
With just over three weeks until Election Day and Zeldin still trailing Hochul, according to most polls, political analysts are baffled by the timing of the former president’s announcement, as Zeldin is still looking to capture crucial independent and moderate democrat votes.
“If he's already got the Republican vote, how does that help them get moderate democrats and independents?” Calabrese said. “Right now, I don't see how that works. I don't see how that accomplishes those goals.”
With independent voters outnumbering Republicans in the state, experts believe the endorsement at this point can only hurt the gubernatorial candidate as Trump has about a 60% disapproval rating among New York independents.
That is also a category Zeldin is already leading by 14 points, according to the latest Marist College poll.
“Donald Trump is Donald Trump,” Calabrese said. “Zeldin may not have even asked for it and Trump may have just come out and done it. That's certainly possible.”
Analysts are saying the endorsement could reverse the recent progress Zeldin has made by centering his campaign around crime, closing Hochul’s lead to just five points with RealClear now calling the race a toss-up with nearly 7% of voters still undecided.
And with the incumbent already targeting Zeldin’s close relationship with Trump and making insurrection a key issue in her campaign, experts believe this move only strengthens her argument.
“I think, frankly, Zeldin’s people have handed her a nice gift because it's given them the opportunity to renew their comments about this Zeldin-Trump connection, which will not do Zeldin any good in New York State,” political analyst Ken Kruly said.
All eyes will be on the Oct. 25 gubernatorial debate where this topic is sure to be among the many heated issues discussed.