Most New Yorkers wouldn’t re-elect Cuomo, PIX11 poll finds

Cuomo Crisis

NEW YORK — The majority of New Yorkers wouldn’t vote for embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo if he was up for re-election today, according to a new Emerson College/PIX11/NewsNation poll released Tuesday.

In the poll, which surveyed 700 New Yorkers, the governor’s approval rating is underwater, with 38% approving of his job performance and 48% disapproving. (The poll’s Credibility Interval, similar to margin of error, is 3.6%.)

Click here for complete poll results

Over the last several weeks, Cuomo has become embroiled in a number of scandals, including regarding his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic and a subsequent alleged coverup; accusations of bullying by the governor and his staff, including from a state lawmaker; and several allegations of sexual harassment, including by former staffers.

Regarding the latest of the many scandals, which has grown in recent days with new allegations from accusers, respondents to the poll said they either believed accusations against the governor or were unsure; only 18% of those polled said they did not believe the accusations of sexual harassment made by ex-staffers.

On Feb. 24, Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo aide now running for Manhattan borough president, published additional details regarding alleged sexual harassment by Cuomo, including a forced kiss. The governor, as he did in December when her allegations first surfaced, said he respects the rights of women to come forward, but flatly denied Boylan’s allegations.

Days later, a second former staffer, Charlotte Bennett, came forward and accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. Bennett said the governor asked her invasive questions about her personal and sexual life.

On Sunday, Cuomo issued a flurry of statements, at first attempting to select an attorney to conduct a review of his actions, as well as an apology that was widely criticized. The governor then agreed to allow the state attorney general to hire an independent law firm to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct.

The following day, a third accuser came forward to the New York Times. Anna Ruch accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior at a wedding. Unlike Boylan and Bennet, Ruch was not an employee of Cuomo’s at the time the alleged harassment occurred. Her account of aggressive behavior was supported by witnesses, contemporaneous text messages and a picture.

New Yorkers were generally split on whether or not Cuomo should leave office for his alleged behavior: 37% of respondents said he should resign over the allegations, 34% said he should not, and 29% were unsure or had no opinion.

Controversy for Cuomo, once lauded for his handling of the pandemic in its early days, initially came over his handling of nursing homes.

In late January, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report on nursing home deaths and policies related to the coronavirus pandemic. James found the Cuomo administration vastly underreported nursing home deaths, according to the report. Her office also made a number of other conclusions about questionable policy, including a legal immunity provision put into the 2020-21 state budget for nursing home and hospital executives.

Days later, top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, who became a powerful figure in the administration during the pandemic, held a controversial phone call with Democratic state lawmakers.

She allegedly told lawmakers that the governor’s office “froze” when it received legislative requests about COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes for fear the data would be used as a political weapon.  

In the days that followed, DeRosa and Cuomo clarified they meant that requests from the state Legislature were frozen so that requests from the Department of Justice could be fulfilled. Cuomo insisted lawmakers were told this was happening, which many denied. He also began to assert his only mistake on nursing homes was not correcting misinformation, which left a “void” political opponents filled with false conspiracies.

Most New Yorkers are unhappy with the governor on the subject of nursing homes.

A clear majority, 59%, said they were somewhat or very dissatisfied with the governor’s response to nursing home deaths; 14% said they were unsure how they felt and only 27% were somewhat or very satisfied.

When it comes to job retention, 45% of people polled said the governor should resign over the nursing home scandal; 36% said he should not resign for this reason, and 18% were unsure.

As for Cuomo’s status among his peers, half of the respondents believed that in comparison to other politicians, Cuomo is about as ethical as others, while 35% said they believed he is less ethical than other politicians, and 15% said he is more ethical.

In 2020, rumors swirled suggesting Cuomo should or could be under consideration for the Democratic nomination for the White House in 2024.

The New York Emerson College/PIX11/NewsNation poll was conducted March 1-2, 2021. The sample consisted of New York registered voters, n=700, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.6 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, education, race, party affiliation and region. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines, SMS-to-web, and an online panel provided by Prime Panels.

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