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Cuomo poll ratings hit new low, particularly on hot-button issues


Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the first time as governor, has an approval rating below 50 percent in a new Siena College poll that also finds only 39 percent of New Yorkers think he’s doing a good job in office.

Cuomo recently wrapped up a rocky end of the legislative session, and has been feuding with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as the teachers union.  Siena College poll spokesman Steve Greenberg says the falling numbers, which have now reached a key milestone, are a trend that’s been developing for several months.

“He’s really crossed a magic line, if you will, ” said Greenberg, who says for the first time since he’s been governor less than half of voters, 49 percent have a favorable view of Cuomo.

Cuomo lost the most support among New York City voters, who also side against the governor in his public fight with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. But statewide, more voters side with Cuomo in the dispute.

The poll also finds that just slightly more than one third of New Yorkers, 39 percent,  like the job the governor is doing in office.   

Cuomo also ranked poorly on how he is handling key issues including education, where 73 percent think he’s doing the wrong things; to protecting New York City tenants, where half think he did a bad job; to the state’s economy, where two-thirds say the governor is not doing enough to help. Three quarters say the governor hasn’t done enough to try to stem corruption in the state, in a year where both leaders of the legislature have been arrested for running fraudulent scams, and the second in command in the Senate is currently on trial, accused of lying to FBI agents.  

A majority of voters, though, approve of the way the governor handled the capture of the two inmates who escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility.

Greenberg says the numbers matter, because when a politician is falling in the polls, he loses political capital. Other elected officials, like those in the legislature,  no longer believe they have to go along with what the governor wants.

Greenberg says Cuomo “had great strength in his negotiating ability” when he was riding high in the polls.

“Now, he doesn’t look nearly as strong to those other polls,” Greenberg said.

He says the trend for Cuomo does not have to continue. He says governors often do better in the polls when the legislature is not in session, and lawmakers aren’t due back at the Capitol for any length of time until the 2016 session.

Cuomo meanwhile, held two events Wednesday that may help him be viewed more favorably by some New Yorkers. He spoke at the national meeting of the NAACP in Philadelphia, where he was praised for his recent action to bypass the legislature and appoint the state’s attorney general to review cases where an unarmed civilian is killed by police.

“Let the community know, justice for all,” the governor told a cheering crowd.

Cuomo also announced the opening of a job training center in Buffalo, where he interpreted the low poll numbers as not about him, but about voter discontent with Albany in general and the on going corruption scandals.

“I think people are disappointed with Albany writ large,” said Cuomo, who cited the recent indictments of the two legislative leaders.

“I think people are just down on state government right now,” Cuomo said. “And I don’t blame them.”

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.