NEW YORK — As he remains embroiled in a scandal born from his handling of nursing home residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new poll shows Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval ratings have dipped following early praise of his leadership.
According to a Marist Poll released Tuesday, 49% of New Yorkers approve of Cuomo’s job performance, down from 66% in July, when the governor’s profile had catapulted to the national stage and his future seemed bright inside the Democratic party nationally.
“Cuomo’s approval rating, which was sky high in the summer, has returned to its pre-pandemic level,” said Dr. Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Poll. “Should Cuomo decide to seek a fourth term, these results suggest it will be a challenge. That said, his current numbers are comparable to what they were when he faced the voters last time.”
Thirty-six percent of registered voters surveyed said Cuomo deserves another term as governor, compared to 39% in April 2018 (though he was reelected handily that November).
When it comes to nursing homes, of which criticism of Cuomo’s leadership is the genesis of his recent woes, 60% of New Yorkers “perceive some wrongdoing” by Cuomo in his handling of nursing homes during the pandemic.
Forty-one percent of adults say the governor has done something unethical but not illegal, 19% think he has done something illegal, and 27% believe he has done nothing wrong.
Cuomo has been slammed with accusations that he covered up New York’s nursing home death toll. Families on Wednesday called for a federal probe.
The governor has pushed back and said the state didn’t cover up deaths, but should have moved faster to release information.
“We should have done a better job of providing information,” Cuomo said. “I accept responsibility for that. I am in charge.”
According to The Times Union, the probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York is in its early stages. A spokesperson told PIX11 they had no comment.
More than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York state were released from hospitals into nursing homes under a controversial order that was scrapped amid criticisms it was accelerating outbreak, raising questions that the March 25 directive helped spread sickness and death among residents. That’s a charge the Cuomo administration disputes.
Intensifying accusations that he covered up the true death toll of the pandemic on nursing home residents followed; the attacks challenge his reputation as a straight-shooter.
Cuomo’s top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers during a phone call for allegedly withholding the state’s nursing home death toll from COVID-19 and said they “froze” out of fear that the true numbers would be “used against them” by federal prosecutors.
Following the cover-up accusations, state lawmakers are alleged Cuomo and his staff have created a toxic environment of bullying.
Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim who said Cuomo threatened to ruin his career if he did not retract criticism related to nursing homes. Cuomo’s office denies Kim’s characterization of the call.
Cuomo has been governor of New York since 2011.
PIX11’s Anthony DiLorenzo, Henry Rosoff and Jordan Norkus for WETM contributed.