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Cuomo's approval down, following new gun law

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s championing of strict new gun control laws in New York state has taken a toll on his popularity. A new poll finds that for the first time since taking office, Cuomo’s approval rating has dropped significantly.

The Quinnipiac University poll finds the governor’s approval rating plunged from an all time high of 74 percent in in December to 59 percent now.  Cuomo lost the most among Republicans, though he also dropped 10 points with Democrats, says pollster Mickey Carroll.

“His numbers overall are way, way down,” said Carroll.

The governor says he’s not surprised by the drop, and attributes it to his aggressive support for New York’s toughest in the nation gun control laws, approved on January 15. But Cuomo says he believes once opponents understand the full implications of the new gun laws, they will be more supportive.

“Because it has nothing to do with the legitimate ownership of a gun,” said Cuomo.

The new gun law closes loopholes in the state’s assault weapons ban and limits magazines to seven bullets or less. New Yorkers who already own assault-style weapons would have to register them with the state.  It also increases reporting of mentally ill people who might be a danger to themselves or others, and limits their access to firearms.

A plurality of voters, 34 percent, think the gun control law went too far, while 30 percent think they do not go far enough.

Cuomo says he ranks the vote by the legislature to approve the gun laws as one of his top achievements as governor.

“It was a gutsy vote,” said Cuomo. “I believe it will save lives.”

Quinnipiac’s Mickey Carroll says the governor’s decline in popularity may not be just about the new gun laws. Carroll says the governor’s recent State of the State speech contained many progressive, but somewhat controversial proposals, including strengthening the state’s right to choose abortion laws, raising the minimum wage, and fighting global warming.

“He meandered through the whole liberal landscape,” Carroll said.

But, Carroll says even at a 59 percent approval rating, Cuomo still has rankings that other politicians would kill for.

Cuomo is more popular than the state legislature, which has just a 32 percent approval rating. And he’s much better liked than the National Rifle Association. The poll found that the gun rights organization was viewed favorably by only 22 percent of New Yorkers.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.