By Jim EllisMarch 8, 2021 — A new Quinnipiac University poll of the New York electorate (March 2-3; 935 self-identified NY registered voters, live interview) was released late last week after his press conference with mixed results for embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
While his numbers are consistently bad with Republicans and Independents, the governor remains strong with his dominant Democratic base. Thus, while a majority of the Q-Poll respondents don’t favor the governor resigning, a large number believes he should not seek re-election in 2022.
To begin, the governor’s favorability ratio is 45:46 percent favorable to unfavorable, which is not particularly bad considering the negative effects of his dual-scandal situation, one involving COVID-related nursing home deaths and the other sexual harassment claims from former staff members.
The positive rating, however, is almost exclusively from Democrats. By a margin of 65:27 percent, self-identified Democrats still view the governor’s job performance positively. Republicans are wholly opposed, 13:82 percent positive to negative, and Cuomo is also decidedly upside-down with Independents, 33:57 percent.
Surprisingly, the polling sample still gives him positive reviews for his handling of the Coronavirus situation (56:41 percent), but, again, most of the favorable ratings come from Democrats, 80:18 percent, while Republicans and Independents both hold strongly negative opinions about how the governor has managed COVID-19: 17:80 percent among tested Republicans; 42:54 percent among Independents.
Once a small number of Democratic officials opened the spigot of dissent toward the governor, many more joined to form a high-flowing chorus. The calls for Cuomo’s resignation aren’t having much effect, however, as a majority, 55:40 percent, do not favor the governor giving up his office before his term ends. As mentioned above, however, the same polling sample does believe he should not seek a fourth term next year, and on this question, even the Democratic response is close.
Overall, 59 percent of the respondents say he should retire at the end of this term, while 36 percent believe he should run again. The Republican pro-retirement ratio registers 90:9 percent. Virtually two-thirds of the Independents (66:28%) say he should retire at the end of next year, while Democrats still barely back him remaining in office after the next election, 50:44 percent.
While the sampling universe still believes Gov. Cuomo is a strong leader (64:33 percent), his numbers pertaining to his trustworthiness are poor. In answering whether the respondents believe the governor is honest and trustworthy, only 37 percent responded favorably as compared to 55 percent who say they do not trust him. Democrats still express confidence in his words and deeds, by a margin of 55:36 percent, but Republicans (11:84 percent) and Independents (24:69 percent) wholly do not.
Interestingly, Cuomo’s standing is better when isolating the more serious scandal: the more than 13,000 COVID-related deaths in New York nursing homes. When asked if they believe Governor Cuomo acted illegally, unethically, or failed to do anything wrong in relation to the nursing home scandal, only 24 percent said they believe his acts were illegal, and that is largely from Republicans. Among the GOP respondents, a majority of 53 percent said he acted illegally.
A bare overall majority (51 percent), however, believes his response was unethical, while 16 percent say he did nothing wrong.
Turning to the sexual harassment scandal, a whopping 79 percent said they believe the allegations are very or somewhat serious. Even a strong majority of Democrats (74 percent) concurred.
As the controversies continue to grow, at least two Republican congressmen are already moving toward entering the governor’s race. Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) is even going so far as hiring statewide campaign staff in order to be prepared if he decides to run. Additionally, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) confirms that he is “seriously considering” becoming a statewide candidate.
The Quinnipiac poll did not test Gov. Cuomo against any potential Democratic primary or Republican political opponent for the 2022 election. It is safe to say, however, that to make the race competitive the GOP needs to have the governor as the opponent. Another Democrat would again command a strong favorite’s position should Gov. Cuomo ultimately decide not to seek re-election.
The Q-Poll results suggest that Cuomo can ride out the scandal at least in terms of avoiding resignation. Whether or not he could survive a re-election campaign remains to be seen.