As Election Day arrives, poll shows narrowing lead for Cuomo

Nov 6, 2018

Polls show the governor’s race in New York is narrowing as the major party candidates made their final pitch to voters.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s lead over his nearest challenger, Republican Marc Molinaro, decreased to 13 points, from 22 points last month. The Siena College poll found that Cuomo’s favorability rating was the lowest in his eight years as governor, with only 45 percent saying that he’s doing a good job in office. 

Cuomo delivered a speech at a get-out-the-vote rally Sunday on Long Island, where he kept the focus on his opposition to President Donald Trump, a campaign theme that the governor has highlighted for months. Cuomo said the Republican Party is “antithetical” to what New Yorkers believe.  

“Literally everything they want to do is the opposite of what we believe, here, in the state of New York. Their election of President Trump was a fraud,” Cuomo said. “He said he was going to help the middle class. The major piece of legislation they passed they can’t even talk about because it was a tax cut, 80 percent went to the richest 1 percent of Americans.”

Cuomo, speaking to media after a rally in Westchester, also on Sunday, predicts the animosity toward the president will help Democrats gain seats and take back the House in Congress, and get more Democrats elected to the state Senate.

The governor also touted what he said is his progressive record of marriage equality, paid family leave, and phasing in an increase in the minimum wage that will lead to a $15 hourly wage in some parts of the state in a couple of years. And he promises more of the same if re-elected.  

Cuomo did not mention the poll numbers, but the news buoyed Molinaro, who spoke at a rally Sunday morning in Albany. He laid out what he sees as the problems that the state faces after two terms of Cuomo.

“(We have the) highest-taxed state in America,” said Molinaro, who added the state is also “overregulated.”

“And because of it all, the most broken and corrupted state government in the country,” he said.

The Republican candidate said he would lower property taxes by a third, in part by having the state take over county Medicaid costs.

And he’s been critical of corruption scandals in Cuomo’s administration that has led to several former Cuomo aides and associates facing prison time on bribery and bid-rigging convictions.

Molinaro leads Cuomo by 10 points upstate and is in a statistical dead heat in the New York City suburbs. The GOP candidate, speaking to reporters afterward, said he knows in order to win, he’ll need to overcome Cuomo’s more than 60-point lead in New York City. But he said he thinks he has more support there than the poll indicates. 

Molinaro did not once mention the head of his party, President Trump, in his final remarks to voters. Cuomo has tried to portray Molinaro as a “Trump Mini Me,” but the GOP candidate said he did not vote for Trump, and is his own person.

“I know exactly who I am,” said Molinaro, who added he’s been in public office before Trump or Cuomo. The 43-year-old Molinaro became mayor of his hometown of Tivoli when he was 18.

“Which includes saying to the president and the federal government, ‘We need smart investment in New York,’ ” Molinaro said.

In addition to being behind in the polls, Molinaro also has a funding disadvantage compared to Cuomo. The incumbent governor spent and raised nearly $30 million in this election cycle, and had over $9 million available to spend in the closing weeks of the campaign. Molinaro had just $200,000 left in his campaign account for the final month.

Three other candidates for governor also are on the ballot: independent and former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Libertarian Party candidate Larry Sharpe and the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins.