After being embroiled in multiple scandals for months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s favorability rating is rising, as is the percentage of those who say they would vote to reelect him next year — but at the the same time, there’s also an uptick in those who back resignation or say he should be impeached from office.
That split result in the latest Siena College poll will do little to dampen the controversy around the three-term governor, who faces federal, state and legislative investigations into allegations of sexual harassment, favoritism in COVID test access for families and friends, a cover-up in COVID deaths in nursing homes and misuse of state resources to produce and promote his latest book.
In a new poll released Monday by Siena College, registered voters said the Democrat should not resign by a 49-41 percent margin, compared to last month's margin of 51-37 percent.
While more people still oppose impeachment than not in the Siena poll, some 41 percent back Cuomo’s removal from office now, the highest level yet since they began asking voters.
Voters' approval of Cuomo's handling of the pandemic has also decreased, but his favorability rating increased a bit in May after plunging to all-time lows in April -- as did the percentage of people who said they'd be willing to re-elect him to a fourth term next year.
There's a huge difference in opinion of the governor between his party and Republicans, according to the poll. While Democrats are divided, Republicans and independents think Cuomo has committed sexual harassment, Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said.
“Democrats continue to say Cuomo should not resign by a two-to-one margin, as Republicans say he should resign by a now larger than two-to-one margin,” Greenberg said.
There have been multiple revelations in the past month that may have impacted public opinion of Cuomo, including reports that said CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was involved in strategy sessions on how to respond to sexual harassment allegations against his older brother.
Cuomo press secretary Richard Azzopardi said that “there were a few phone conversations, with friends and advisers giving the governor advice.”
Earlier this month, Cuomo disclosed that he was paid a $3.1 million advance to write his COVID-19 leadership book last year and under his publishing contract will make another $2 million on the memoir over the next two years. That total windfall of more than $5.1 million further inflamed critics who have said it was inappropriate for Cuomo to personally enrich himself with a self-congratulatory book, published just as the state was seeing a deadly resurgence in infections last October.
Cuomo also was under more criticism over the involvement of some of his staff in preparing the book for publication. New York Attorney General Letitia James is now also investigating the role some of Cuomo's aides played in “drafting, editing, sale and promotion” of the book, but Azzopardi has repeatedly said that state employees who helped with the book did so on their own time in a “volunteer” capacity.
James' investigation into multiple allegations against the Cuomo is expected to be lengthy and complex, with the attorney general saying Friday that the probe will “conclude when it concludes.”
James told reporters the ongoing investigation into whether the governor sexually harassed women, including female employees, is “very thorough and comprehensive.” Her office is also looking into whether Cuomo's vaccine czar Larry Schwartz, leveraged COVID-19 vaccine shots when called at least three Democratic county executives to gauge their loyalty to the governor and whether they would urge him to resign.
Schwartz has acknowledged making the calls but said he “did nothing wrong” and denied discussing vaccines during those conversations.
James' office is expected to release a final report to the public with its findings.
The governor has said he didn't do anything wrong and that he expects the report will prove it.
Cuomo has not said definitively he will still run again next year, though that had been his intention before the scandals erupted. Digging into the May data, Cuomo saw a sharp rise in re-election support among New York City voters, at 53 percent, up 9 points versus the last Siena poll in April.
It was the first time this year that more than half of NYC voters said they'd re-elect the governor.
By demographic group, support also rose sharply among younger voters, women, Hispanics, the Jewish community and those earning more than $100,000 a year.
Monday's new poll found he would beat a generic Republican opponent by 10 points in a 2022 matchup, which would be his narrowest margin of victory yet.
But if James ran for governor, the same poll found the attorney general would beat a generic Republican by 17 points.
The poll of 793 registered voters was conducted by phone and online panel May 16-20 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.