Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s job approval rating has slipped, but he remains popular and enjoys a comfortable advantage in his quest for re-election, according to a new poll.
Cuomo, a Democrat, holds massive leads over each of three potential Republican challengers: Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, conservative upstate businessman Carl Paladino and real estate mogul Donald Trump, the NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll shows. In head-to-head match-ups, the governor beat them all by at least 40 percentage points.
The only challenger to formally launch a campaign against Cuomo is Astorino, who announced his candidacy Wednesday. The poll, taken in the days leading up to Astorino’s announcement, shows him with the support of 25 percent of registered voters, compared with Cuomo’s 65 percent. Another 10 percent are undecided.
When asked their opinion of Astorino, nearly half of voters — 46 percent — said they were unsure, or hadn’t heard of him. That included 49 percent of members of his own party.
“This is still someone who lacks definition and is still not very well known among voters,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “His to-do list is long and it is by all measures a very uphill fight for him.”
The general election is Nov. 4.
Cuomo, meanwhile, enjoys a cushy approval-rating advantage. But it is slowly shrinking.
Asked to rate his job performance, 42 percent of voters responded positively, while 18 percent said the governor was doing poorly.
The last time the poll asked the question, in November, the split was 52-13.
That decline appears to be driven by New Yorkers’ lackluster views of the economy.
The proportion of voters who said they thought New York was in a recession jumped to 65 percent, the highest level in two years, the poll shows. Of those voters, 37 percent said they approved of Cuomo’s performance.
That effect was even more pronounced among blacks and Latinos, groups more likely to see the state economy as slumping. Among Latino voters, 41 percent approved of Cuomo’s job performance, down from 62 percent in November. Among blacks, the figure dropped from 57 percent to 42 percent.
“Although he has a very wide lead, he still will need to convince voters that he’s turning the economy around,” Miringoff said.
The poll, conducted from Friday to Monday, surveyed 658 registered voters, and the results carry a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
Not surprisingly, Astorino is trying to exploit Cuomo’s economic vulnerabilities. He released a web video Wednesday that accused the governor of fiscal gimmickry and failing to create enough jobs.
If the clip is any indication of what’s to come, there will be a lot more negative attacks against Cuomo.
Equally unsurprising is Cuomo’s silent response, Miringoff said.
“He doesn’t want to assist Astorino with one of his problems, which is low name recognition.”
But as much as the economy bothers voters, Cuomo needn’t worry — at least not yet.
His favorability rating remains high and largely unchanged, with 63 percent of voters saying they had a positive view of him and 33 percent saying they had a negative view of him.
And the governor has amassed a campaign war chest that at last count totaled $33 million. Astorino has about $1 million.
The poll also asked voters to choose between Cuomo and two other potential challengers who have yet to say if they’ll actually run.
In a match-up with Paladino, whom Cuomo soundly defeated in 2010, the governor leads 68 percent to 25 percent. Cuomo leads Trump by an even larger margin: 70 percent to 26 percent.
In short: whoever runs against Cuomo in the general election will have to overcome daunting odds.