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Polls: Cuomo Apparently Sailing Toward November Victory

WAMC composite image by Dave Lucas

Recent polling shows New York Governor Andrew Cuomo retains a plum position heading toward the fall elections.

The Empire State's chief executive has weathered storms of controversy well: A new Siena poll agrees with last week's Marist Poll that shows Gov. Cuomo continues to outpace GOP opponent Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino by a wide margin.

With the general election about 90 days away, Siena pollster Steve Greenberg puts the better-funded incumbent Democrat ahead by 32 points, with support of 58 percent of likely voters compared to 26 percent for Astorino.    "His lead,  at 32 points, is down 5 points from last month when he led by 37 points."

Over the last three weeks, there has been extensive media coverage regarding U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation into the now-defunct Moreland Commission. Voters told Siena pollsters corruption in state government is a serious problem, yet Greenberg notes two-thirds are unfamiliar with the Moreland Commission or its work and nearly two-thirds say they’ve heard little or nothing about Bharara’s investigation. In exchange for what critics have called a modest ethics bill, Gov. Cuomo closed down the Moreland Commission ahead of schedule, leading to a rash of critical news reports about the administration’s outsize role in the commission’s work.   According to Greenberg,  "Right now voters are concerned about corruption. But they're not following news about corruption. So what this latest Siena college poll shows is that Andrew Cuomo remains in a strong position to win re-election this year. Although his lead is down, a few points fromthe last Siena College poll a month ago...  What's particularly interesting here is that those voters, about a third of voters in the state say they are familiar with the Moreland Commission and its work. Among those voters, Cuomo leads Astorino- by only 8 points, 49 to 41 percent. Among the two-thirds of voters who say they are completely unfamiliar with the Moreland Commission or its work, Cuomo has a commanding 43-point lead, leading Astorino 62 to 19 percent."

Marist Poll Director Lee Miringoff affirms similar findings with the NBC 4 New York/The Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll.   "I think what we're seeing is that most New York voters don't consider the whole Moreland Commission controversy a major factor. Only 23 percent think so. The overwhelming majority think its only a minor or no factor at all in deciding how they're gonna vote in November. What we're seeing is there's some tarnish on Cuomo's image, his approval rating, if people have heard of the Moreland Commission, his approval rating is lower than with people who haven't. But Astorino's numbers are stuck. His standing has not improved. His name recognition is still very low and not particularly very positive either."

Some 62 percent of registered voters told Marist they thought Governor Cuomo’s staff should not have had input into the work of the Moreland Commission; 52 percent thought the governor’s staff did something unethical by getting involved with the commission’s work.

Greenberg says while voters told Siena corruption is a serious problem, when presented with four issues and asked which one they thought was the most important in determining their vote for governor in November:  "...jobs was number one, taxes was number two, education was number three, and corruption was the fourth most important issue. So this tends to be an election. At least at the moment with 12 weeks until election day, where voters are focused on pocketbook issues, those are the issues, most likely to affect voters' decision on who to support this year."

Marist's Miringoff offers takeaway from both polls:  "Some damage to Cuomo, but certainly nothing that is going to, at this point, jeopardize his re-election prospects by any stretch of the imagination.”

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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