Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval rating dipped with New Yorkers in the wake of recent controversy over his administration’s delayed release and initial undercount of COVID-19 deaths in congregate facilities, according to a Marist College poll released Tuesday.
Polling also revealed New York residents are not convinced of re-electing Cuomo to a fourth term in 2022.
About 49% of New Yorkers approve of Cuomo’s job performance, down from 66% in July. Roughly 44% disapprove, including 28% of Democrats compared to 9% of disapproving voters in the governor’s party last summer, according to Marist’s newest poll.
Non-enrolled voters are divided 44% to 47%.
“We’re seeing an increase from those last July who strongly disagree with him,” Lee M. Miringoff, director of Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion, said during a virtual event with the Albany press corps Tuesday.
Marist interviewers conducted the new poll results by calling 953 New York adults on cellphone and landlines across the state’s 62 counties between Feb. 15 and 17. The institution periodically conducts polls each year.
Of the 953 participants, 813 were registered voters, or roughly 85%.
The most recent poll shows figures that reflect Cuomo’s pre-pandemic approval ratings, or before the governor gained global attention, and popularity through most of 2020, for his daily COVID-19 briefings and virus response.
“There’s a lot of things buzzing around,” Miringoff said. “It will be tough for him to extinguish all of those.”
About 54% of New Yorkers approve of how Cuomo is handling the coronavirus pandemic, down from 72% in July.
The poll showed 42% of voters think the governor is doing an excellent or good job in office, down from 60% in July.
“The combination of the excellent and good is a good barometer; that number now at 42% is low in re-election context,” Miringoff said. “[Numbers] in the high 40s do better. His re-election prospects below that ... seem a little soft on the numbers right now.”
Cuomo’s net positive rating is up 22 points in New York City and 9 points in city suburbs. Upstate residents are divided at 48% favorability.
“Yesterday’s Morning Consult poll of over 3,000 people had the governor’s approval rating at 57%,” Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s senior adviser, said in a statement Tuesday. “The numbers between the various surveys always vary and we remain focused on fighting this pandemic, administering as many vaccines as possible, and safely and smartly reopening our state for all New Yorkers.”
The governor’s job approval rating was 38% in March 2019 and 42% in April 2018, according to past Marist polls.
Cuomo’s approval rating is comparable to his father’s, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, in his third term. Gov. Mario Cuomo’s approval rating was 40% in May 1993, or three months shy of the governor’s current term.
“The numbers are showing an adverse effect,” Miringoff said. “This isn’t as good as it was for him in 2018.”
About 61% of New York registered voters believe Cuomo made mistakes in decisions related to policy in New York’s nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advocates, families of residents in adult-care facilities and lawmakers have criticized a March 25 state Health Department memo that allowed virus-positive nursing home patients to return to the facility to recover.
The order intended to free up hospital beds for critically ill virus patients at the height of the pandemic when some expert models projected a high of 140,000 COVID hospitalizations, but many allege it led to an increased number of deaths and have demanded an independent investigation for months.
“The best way [to handle the situation] probably passed,” Miringoff said. “It always seems the best thing is to get everything out and quickly and avoid the drip, drip, drip of damaging information.”
Cuomo’s administration argues the policy was in line with federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the time, and the virus preyed on the most vulnerable in congregate settings.
The governor has also come under fire this week after reports he threatens politicians and officials. Assemblyman Ron Kim, D-Queens, recalled receiving a threatening call from Cuomo after the Democrat’s public comments against the executive about the nursing home issue in a New York Post report Feb. 17.
“The phone call into the city did not do him any good,” Miringoff said. “He sounded like a former president a little bit, and that’s probably not where you want to be in New York.”
About 41% of statewide adults say Cuomo has done something unethical, but not illegal, in his handling of nursing homes during the pandemic. Roughly 19% of New Yorkers think he has done something illegal and 27% think he has done nothing wrong, according to the poll.
About 9% of people surveyed were unsure, and 4% had not heard about the issue.
More than 15,000 New York residents within the state’s 613 congregate facilities have died from COVID-19 complications since the first confirmed case March 1.
The state did not report the total congregate facility deaths by nearly half until this month — excluding presumed and resident deaths that took place in hospitals or hospice — for more than seven months.
A majority of New Yorkers are also not convinced about re-electing Cuomo to a fourth term, according to the poll, citing 36% of registered voters thinks he deserves to be re-elected compared to 39% in April 2018.
“This is a damaging story,” Miringoff said of the COVID nursing home death data. “The nursing homes stayed with people and there’s concern as different information came forward. All of that created a bit of a storm here that has had a negative impact on him.”
The recent declining popularity of state leaders is a trend, Miringoff said, as U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, reflected their lowest approval ratings in several decades.
About 41% of New York registered voters approve of Schumer’s job performance, according to Marist’s poll — the lowest since March 2000 when the senator’s approval was 39%.
Roughly 15% of those polled say Schumer is doing an excellent, and 26% a good, job in office; 23% of those polled said he was doing a “fair” job and 29% report the senator’s work is poorly done.
Gillibrand’s approval rating is 36% in the newest poll, which is equal to her lowest favorability since the end of October 2010.
About 8% of voters said she does an excellent job and 28% a fair job, while 27% feel she does fair work and 18% said poor.
Roughly 18% of voters were unsure.
Schumer maintains majority approval among Democrats at 57%, one-third of non-enrolled voters and 17% of Republicans statewide, according to polling data.
Half of Democrats say Gillibrand is doing an above average job with a third in disagreement. Roughly 17% of voters said they were uncertain.
Marist’s poll showed a majority of New Yorkers prioritize controlling the spread of coronavirus over the economy, with 57% believing the state should prioritize limiting the spread of the virus even if it means it will hurt the economy.
About 37% say restarting the economy should be officials’ top priority, regardless of negative impacts on containing virus spread, according to the poll.
About two in three New Yorkers, or 67%, say they plan to or already have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly 28% say they will decline to be immunized.
Democrats are more likely to take the vaccine, according to the poll, but a majority of New Yorkers, regardless of political party, say they have or will be vaccinated.