Siena poll shows governor's approval rating slipping

Cuomo

ALBANY — Less than a year after he was elected to a third term as New York's chief executive, Gov. Cuomo has hit a rut, with nearly two-thirds of voters giving him a negative job performance rating, a Siena College poll has found.

The survey found 64 percent of respondents reported that Cuomo is doing a poor or fair job as governor, while just 34 percent said he is doing a good or excellent job.

Cuomo's job performance rating, along with his favorable rating — 43 percent — are the lowest scores he has had on those two measures, matching his all-time low in February, Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said.

Cuomo got his highest approval ratings in the New York City region, which leans heavily Democratic.

But in the suburbs — usually considered swing regions, with many independents, where voting trends can help decide statewide elections — just 37 percent approve of his performance, Siena reported.

It got worse for Cuomo in the upstate region, where his job performance rating was pegged at 31 percent.

"Since June, his favorability rating has fallen double digits with Democrats, Republicans, independents and voters from every region of the state," Siena Poll spokesman Steven Greenberg said.

The governor's low ratings came even as the same survey found New Yorkers, by a 51-39 percent margin, said Cuomo has made New York a better place in his nearly nine years at the helm of state government.

The poll points to "voter fatigue" with Cuomo, who has won three terms as governor and had one term as state attorney general, said veteran New York political strategist George Arzt.

"What this says to me is he is really not getting his message out on his own accomplishments, and there really needs to be a better narrative coming from the second floor (of the statehouse, where Cuomo has his office)," Arzt said.

But Arzt suggested Cuomo, who plans to seek a fourth term in 2022, is in good position to weather the dip in his poll numbers as "there isn't anyone on the horizon who poses a threat to him."

Cuomo also hasn't benefited from his recent strategy of choosing public radio stations as forums for interviews, Arzt added.

"He needs to go into communities, and go into black churches and walk in towns and go down to business districts and have people touch him," he said. "You can't manage the press by press release."

Cuomo's office offered no comment on the survey results.

Siena found that one of the centerpiece measures approved in the 2019 legislative session, the new law allowing undocumented immigrants to qualify for driver's licenses in New York, remains unpopular with voters. Cuomo was among its advocates. Just 43 percent of respondents said they favor the law, while 53 percent indicated opposition to it. 

Another new law — one allowing farm workers to join unions and get overtime pay for working long hours — drew the support of 78 percent of those who answered the survey of 810 registered voters. The survey was conducted July 28 through August 1.

The same poll showed New Yorkers giving President Donald Trump, a native New Yorker, a negative job performance rating — 34-66 percent, though that was an improvement from the 29-70 percent numbers he drew from the same survey in June.

The survey suggested that the most popular New York politician at the moment is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. His favorable rating was put at 53 percent, while Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., now a candidate for the presidency, scored a 41 percent favorable rating.

Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach him at jmahoney@cnhi.com

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