New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference on May 21, 2021 in New York City. | Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state Attorney General Tish James did better than Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a hypothetical gubernatorial matchup against an unnamed Republican opponent, according to a new survey released by the Siena College Research Institute on Monday.
The poll also showed that the embattled governor’s own favorability ratings have stabilized after several months of decline. He has become enmeshed in several scandals, leading James to open an investigation while the state Assembly considers articles of impeachment.
Turning to next year’s gubernatorial election, voters said they’d prefer James over an unnamed Republican by a margin of 46-29. That’s a 17-point lead.
They’d prefer Cuomo over an unnamed Republican by a margin of 48-38. That’s a 10-point lead.
But it would be a stretch to say that those numbers clearly indicate that James, who is investigating the myriad allegations against Cuomo and has made no recent suggestions about her future ambitions, would be a favorite in a hypothetical primary.
While Siena didn’t ask about a head-to-head matchup, it did ask whether voters want Cuomo to win a fourth term, and Democrats backed that idea by a margin of 56-33. And much of James’ advantage in the question about running against unnamed Republicans can be attributed to the fact that more Republicans and independents said they don’t know who she is and declined to answer.
But much of Cuomo’s strength throughout his tenure has been been his aura of inevitability. One might have to go back to 2002 to find a poll where anybody has performed as well as he in an election-related question. So the new Siena result could dent that aura at a time when he’s facing more political peril than ever before.
Cuomo’s broader numbers: A total of 44 percent of respondents say they view Cuomo favorably, while 48 percent say they view him unfavorably. That’s an improvement from the 40-52 he hit in April.
On the question of resignation, 41 percent said they think he should immediately leave office while 49 percent said he should not. That compares to 37-51 in April.
He performed well on questions about how he’s handling Covid-19.
“Overall, when it comes to the job he’s continuing to do during the pandemic, his numbers remain strong thanks to Democrats,” said Siena spokesperson Steve Greenberg. “On every pandemic measure other than nursing home data, at least two-thirds of Democrats give Cuomo a positive rating. However, at least 64 percent of Republicans give him negative grades on all the pandemic questions, and independents give him either negative or at best break-even grades.”
James was viewed favorably by a margin of 38-20. That’s pretty consistent with where she has been — she was at 39-17, 40-14, and 36-17 in other recent Siena polls — though the 20 percent who viewed her unfavorably was the highest such number she’s ever received.
The Republican gubernatorial candidates: Rep. Lee Zeldin was viewed favorably by a margin of 20-19. That compares to 18-17 in April.
Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino polled at 20-15. That compares to 32-41 in October, 2014, right before his last run for governor concluded with a loss to Cuomo.
Siena spoke with 793 registered voters from May 16-20, and the numbers have a margin of error of 4 points. View the crosstabs here.
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