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NEW YORK (PIX11) — Exclusive polling from PIX11/The Hill/Emerson College shows New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is still poised to be the Democratic nominee, but a very close general election later in the year is possible if former Gov. Andrew Cuomo enters the race as an independent candidate.

The polling comes after a tumultuous few weeks in New York politics. Gov. Hochul is still doing damage control following the federal indictment of her now former Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin. The poll shows Hochul is the preference of 45% of likely Democratic primary voters. About 12% picked Congressman Tom Suozzi, 7% selected NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and 22% remained undecided.

A little less than 36% of all voters approve of the job Hochul is doing, pointing to a potential struggle in a general election in November.

However, hanging out there is the possibility Cuomo, who resigned amidst multiple scandals including claims of sexual harassment, could run as an independent.

“I’m open to all options,” Cuomo repeatedly said at an event in the Bronx recently.

The PIX11/The Hill/Emerson College poll found that a generic Democratic candidate and a generic Republican candidate would be in a virtual tie with 33% support each with Cuomo in the race. About 16% would support Cuomo and 18% remain undecided.

Benjamin’s indictment has become a dominant issue of the campaign in recent weeks. The Justice Department has accused him of using his power when he was a New York state senator to secure a state-funded grant in exchange for contributions to his own political campaign. Benjamin insists he’s innocent but resigned.

Based on the poll, 57% of Democratic voters would be less likely to vote for a Hochul/Benjamin ticket. While the indictment remains a talking point on the campaign trail, Hochul worked with Democratic allies in Albany to remove him from the ballot.

On the Republican side, New York State GOP establishment may have lined up behind Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin, but that primary is wide-open. The polling shows Zeldin with 26% support.  Andrew Giuliani, son of the former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has a little less than 18% support, and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino with a little less than 16%. Of likely Republican voters, 19% remain undecided.

PIX11, The Hill, and Emerson College also asked voters about some of the leading issues:

– A combined 84% of New Yorkers say they are very or somewhat concerned about gun violence.

– 67% of New Yorkers oppose the new Bills stadium deal that will cost state taxpayers $850 million.

– 57% of New Yorkers support a continued mask mandate on public transportation.

– New Yorkers were relatively evenly divided on if they felt safe on MTA trains and buses; 43% do not ride, 27% feel safe, 30% do not feel safe.

Voters were mostly surveyed ahead of the leaked Supreme Court decision that indicated abortion rights would be struck down. The overall survey was of 1,000 New Yorkers of diverse backgrounds and regions, including 465 men, 512 women and 23 non-binary individuals. Questions applicable to everyone surveyed had a margin of error of +/- 3%. Questions applicable to the 444 likely Democratic primary voters carry a margin of error of +/-4.6%. Questions applicable to the 192 likely Republican primary voters carry a margin of error of +/- 7%.