Embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo's approval, favorable ratings and reelection numbers among New Yorkers are all sinking, according to a new poll, as the three-term Democratic governor faces a chorus of calls to step down amid numerous sexual harassment allegations from former staffers and a federal probe into whether his administration covered up the deaths of nursing home residents from the coronavirus.
Only 40% of New Yorkers have a favorable opinion of Cuomo in a Siena College survey released on Monday, with 52% saying they see their governor in an unfavorable light. That's down from 43%-45% in March and 56%-39% in February.
Cuomo's job performance in the poll, which was conducted April 11-15, stands at 42% approval and 56% disapproval. That's down from 46%-52% in March and 51%-47% in February.
But a majority of New Yorkers – 51%-37% – say that Cuomo shouldn't resign, which is basically unchanged from a month ago. And by a 52%-38% margin they say he can effectively do his job as governor, down from 48%-34% in March.
"Voters to Andrew Cuomo: 'we've got some good news and some bad news.' On the one hand, his favorability rating is now the lowest it has ever been, with more than 50% of voters viewing Cuomo unfavorably for the very first time in a Siena College poll. On the other hand, a majority of voters – including Democrats by two-to-one and a plurality of independents – continue to say that Cuomo should not resign, and a similar majority say he can still effectively do his job as governor," Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg highlighted.
According to the poll, 60% of New Yorkers approve of the job Cuomo’s doing handling the pandemic. But by a 44%-22% margin, they think the governor has committed sexual harassment, with just over a third undecided. Last month voters by a 35%-24% margin thought Cuomo had committed sexual harassment, with just over 4 in 10 undecided.
More than 135 state lawmakers and nearly the entire congressional delegation from New York – including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – have urged Cuomo to step down.
Cuomo is resisting those calls as he continues to emphasize that people should wait until the results of the attorney general's investigation before making up their minds and passing judgment. While he has apologized for making some women uncomfortable, he's denied that he ever inappropriately touched a woman.
"Women have a right to come forward and be heard and I encourage that fully. But I also want to be clear, there is still a question of the truth, I did not do what has been alleged. Period," he said in a news conference early last month.
"There are often many motivations for making an allegation and that is why you need to know the facts before you make a decision," he added, saying those who are calling for him to resign are being "reckless and dangerous."
The governor and his office have also pushed back on the nursing home deaths cover-up allegations, denying that nursing home fatality data was altered.
New York doesn't have gubernatorial limits, and Cuomo announced in May of 2019 that he would run in 2022 for a fourth term steering the state. He had a massive $16.8 million cash on hand in his campaign coffers at the beginning of this year.
While New York is a reliably blue state – Cuomo won reelection to a third term in 2018 by a 23-point margin – the governor has politically been severely wounded by the two scandals. Cuomo, who last year initially won national praise from Democrats and the media for his efforts battling the pandemic, is also facing a state legislative inquiry that could possibly lead to impeachment.
Just a third of those questioned in the poll say they’re prepared to reelect Cuomo if he runs next year, with 57% preferring "someone else." The governor’s support for reelection is down from 34%-52% in March and 46%-45% in February.
Greenberg highlighted that on Cuomo’s favorability, job performance, and reelection numbers that "interestingly, since February, on all three measures, there was virtually no movement among Republicans, who already had Cuomo at very low levels. There was significant downward movement by independents and the largest drop was among Democrats."
Earlier this month GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin announced a 2022 Republican gubernatorial challenge against Cuomo. According to the poll, Zeldin has a 18%-17% favorable/unfavorable rating with two thirds of voters not knowing enough about the conservative congressman from the eastern half of Long Island to form an opinion.
Minutes after the release of the Siena survey, Zeldin said in a statement that "this latest poll confirms what I’ve been hearing from New Yorkers all across our state - Cuomo's Gotta Go, and it’s going to take a new generation of leadership to get the job done."
The Siena College Poll used live telephone operators to question 801 registered voters in New York State. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.