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Poll shows Cuomo has strong support, but still facing criticism

Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a press briefing Monday. (Provided photo — Darren McGee, governor’s office)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo got mixed grades from voters on his handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in a new Siena Research poll released Tuesday.

Most respondents approved of the governor’s overall handing of the pandemic, with 61% in favor of his approach to 34% against. Less than half believe he’s handled the vaccine rollout correctly, with 48% approving to 49% disapproving. But his overall communication was rated highly, with 67% approving to 33% disapproving.

The governor ranked lowest on his handling of the state’s COVID-related nursing home deaths. Only 39% of voters approved of how and when the governor made information public about how many nursing home residents died of COVID-19. Fifty-five percent disapproved.

The governor has been under fire for weeks since state Attorney General Letitia James released a report that detailed how Cuomo’s administration had underreported the total number of virus-related nursing home deaths by as much as half.

The governor himself on Monday admitted mistakes were made in his administration’s release of the nursing home death toll, but said the mistake was an unintentional result of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.

The Siena poll concluded on Feb. 11, before the governor’s statement admitting mistakes were made. Feb. 11 was also the day the New York Post published a story detailing how Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa apologized to state Democratic legislators for withholding the state’s nursing home COVID-19 death toll. On that call, Ms. DeRosa reportedly admitted that the administration “froze” due to a fear that federal prosecutors would use the information against them.

According to a statement issued alongside the poll from Steven Greenberg, a pollster for Siena College in downstate’s Albany County, Democrats continue to support the governor on most issues, but he’s losing out on Republicans and independent voters.

“Voters, especially Democrats, continue to give Cuomo strong marks for his overall handling of the pandemic,” Greenberg said in a statement. “He gets a positive rating from 83% of Democrats and 52% of independents.

“However, 72% of Republicans give him a negative grade,” he added.

Independents and Republicans also responded largely negatively when asked about the governor’s handling of the vaccine rollout in the state, while most Democrats approved.

The partisan breakdown of the nursing home deaths issue is slightly different. It’s the issue the governor gets the most criticism from his own party on, although most Democrats — about 54% — still approved of the governor’s response, with 37% disapproving. Republicans were overwhelmingly negative, with 81% saying he’s done a poor job to 17% saying he’s handled the issue appropriately.

Only 30% of independent voters said the governor has handled nursing home death information appropriately, to 63% who disapproved.

For his job overall, Cuomo received decent marks on his overall favorability, with 56% of overall voters saying they like the job he’s been doing to 39% who disapprove. That’s virtually unchanged from the 57% approval to 39% disapproval rating he had in January.

When the governor runs for his fourth term in office next year, 46% of voters said they would vote for him again, while 45% said they would prefer someone else. In November, 48% of voters said they would reelect Cuomo to 42% who said they would not, indicating the governor faced a small drop in support.

“While Cuomo remains popular and gets strong ratings across the board from Democrats, independents are closely divided on their feelings toward Cuomo,” Greenberg said. “Republicans, who had shown Cuomo some love early in the pandemic last spring, are now overwhelmingly negative in their views on Cuomo.”

Rich Azzopardi, senior advisor to Cuomo, said the results of Siena College’s poll show how support for the governor remains stable and support for his handling of the pandemic continues to stay strong.

“New Yorkers saw with their own two eyes how Governor Cuomo worked day and night to get us on the other side of this pandemic,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “There are politics and then there are fact, and the facts in this poll shows the governor’s favorability is rock solid and virtually unchanged and, nearly a year in, an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers approve of his handling of the pandemic.”

The Siena poll also asked respondents about their stance on President Joseph Biden and his COVID relief plan, the COVID vaccine and former President Donald Trump.

Most New Yorkers support President Biden’s $1.9 trillion tax plan, which gets support from 91% of Democrats, 71% of independents and 45% of Republicans. At least two-thirds of every demographic, excluding Republicans and Conservatives, support the relief plan.

The president also got a 65% approval rating from New Yorkers, compared to 29% who disapprove of him. Trump has a very low approval rating by comparison, with 67% of respondents saying they disapprove of him overall to 26% who continue to support him.

Between 12% and 19% of voters in each state region and each party have received a COVID-19 vaccine, although there are distinct ethnic and economic disparities. While 20% of all white voters have received vaccines, only 10% of Black voters and 5% of Latino or Hispanic voters have received doses.

A significant number of Republican respondents, 35%, said they would not take a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 17% of Democrats and 21% of independents who said the same. Overall, 22% of all respondents said the are not planning to get vaccinated.

This Siena College poll was conducted Feb. 7 to 11 and reached 804 registered voters in New York state using phone calls and an online system. The poll has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 4.3%, meaning any single question’s true results could be 4.3% larger or smaller than the given number.

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