Poll shows Cuomo poised for safe re-election, with some weaknesses

Oct 22, 2013

A new poll finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo well positioned to win re-election next year, but there are some weaknesses in his generally positive numbers.

Cuomo consistently had almost unheard of high numbers in the polls during the first half of his term. But in January of this year, he took on the controversial issue of gun control. He championed the passage of what were at the time the strictest gun regulations in the nation, known as the NY SAFE Act. Almost immediately, his poll numbers dropped to more normal approval levels and have hovered around 60 percent for months, says Steve Greenberg with the Siena Research Institute.

“As a result of the SAFE Act, he lost some people who said they liked him,” said Greenberg, who described the group as largely Republican and largely upstate. “And they’re not coming back to him."

Siena drilled down into the approval ratings for the governor, and found there are some potential weaknesses for Cuomo. Voters have mixed feelings about his job performance. The survey asked about five specific areas, and Cuomo scored positively in just one category: fighting for equal rights for New Yorkers. The governor successfully passed a gay marriage law and lobbied for women’s rights. In the other four categories -- job creation, fighting corruption, public education and government efficiency -- the governor received more bad marks than good.  

Siena’s Greenberg says around one third of voters are very positive about Cuomo, one third are strongly negative, and the remaining third are in the middle, though that group does want to see him reelected. Greenberg says right now, Cuomo seems headed toward a relatively safe reelection.

“The governor remains in a very strong position to win reelection in 2014,” said Greenberg.

He says Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one in New York, Cuomo has a $28 million war chest and there’s a lack of any real opposition.

“At the moment, there does not appear to be any Republican candidate,” said Greenberg.

And in what can be viewed as perhaps good news for Cuomo, the poll finds most voters, while they are concerned about the high level of corruption in New York politics, are not paying close attention to the machinations of a panel appointed by the governor. Cuomo’s Moreland Act Commission is supposed to investigate instances of potential corruption in the campaign donation system.

Cuomo had been attracting negative newspaper editorials and sarcastic columns, after stories appeared in the Daily News and other publications alleging that he was suppressing subpoenas that might uncover his own conflicts of interest with certain donors. The commission recently deiced to go through with the subpoenas after all.

Greenberg says New Yorkers don’t seem to be that interested in the process, they just want to see an end result. That includes a crack down on rampant corruption that’s led to multiple arrests, indictments and imprisonment of state lawmakers in recent years.

There have been reports that the Moreland commission might disband while Cuomo and the legislature pursue a constitutional amendment to enact public campaign financing. Voters, by a five-to-one margin, say that would not be a good idea.

A spokesman for the governor had little reaction, saying “polls go up, polls go down.”