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NY Governor's Ratings Slip In Siena Poll

facebook & Siena College

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo towers over Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino in the latest Siena Poll.

His popularity is slipping, ever so slightly: Siena pollster Steve Greenberg says eight months away from election day is still too early to gauge how Governor Andrew Cuomo will fare come November.  A plurality of voters, 47-43 percent, say a Republican can beat Cuomo in this election.   "A poll is a snapshot in time. At this point in time, Andrew Cuomo remains popular with voters and has a huge lead over Rob Astorino."

Right now, voters say they prefer Cuomo by a 61-26 margin over Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the only declared Republican candidate for governor.  Although nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers rank Cuomo as an effective governor, that is the lowest rating since last November. Astorino, who spoke at the capitol in Albany shortly after declaring his candidacy, senses a chink in the sitting governor's armor, and compares this campaign to the one he waged for Westchester County Executive in 2009.   "The previous incumbent who I ran against had mountains of money, a big head start in the polls. So why even do it?  I did it because I knew we could make a difference. I did it because we didn't need the same amount of money he had. We just needed enough to get our message out. And that's gonna be the same case here."

Siena sampling found New Yorkers strongly behind the controversial gun reform law, the SAFE Act. Again, Steve Greenberg.  "It's got 2 to 1 support in New York. 63 percent of voters across the State support it compared to 32 percent who oppose. But we do see wide differences on a partisan basis, on a geographic basis... three quarters of democrats support it, a majority of republicans oppose it. A majority of independent voters support it. And when we look geographically, more than three-quarters of voters from New York City support it, nearly two-thirds of voters from the downstate suburbs support it, but among upstate voters, a majority, albeit a narrow majority, oppose it by a 52 to 45 per cent margin."

Astorino vows if elected, he'll support repealing the SAFE Act.  He says he is all for immigration reform. The Siena poll reveals New York voters are strongly against the Dream Act, which failed in the coalition-led Senate but is strongly supported in the Democratic Assembly.  Greenberg notes  "...56 per cent in fact say no to the dream act, compared to 39 per cent who would support seeing it passed. Democrats strongly support it, a majority. Republicans overwhelmingly oppose it. And the majority of independents oppose it as well."

Greenberg adds 53 percent of New Yorkers support the governor's idea of funding college courses for inmates. And most survey respondents felt the economic well-being of New Yorkers has worsened since Cuomo took office in 2011.  He says Siena will continue to monitor the pulse of voters and expects to conduct another poll during April.

Voters and candidates alike will be waiting for that next poll. Astorino is confident his popularity will grow over time.  "People will know me by October. They'll know as we get along go along here that I am a very different candidate and I will be a very different governor than Andrew Cuomo."

A spokesman says the Cuomo administration doesn't comment on polls.

Siena telephoned 813 registered voters by cell and landline March 16 through 20: the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

View the results [PDF] here.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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