Poll numbers should be a wake-up call for Cuomo, GOP senators

If there’s one takeaway from the Siena College poll released on Thursday, it’s that New Yorkers are certainly not buying what Andrew Cuomo is selling.

Yes, the governor’s approval rating had a slight uptick, but let’s not kid ourselves and think that had anything to do with the, um, “historically productive” legislative session (that Cuomo could make that claim with a straight face is a brilliant exercise in political cognitive dissonance). As Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner articulated in her Slant op-ed yesterday, Albany’s failure to act on ethics reform in the immediate wake of the convictions of Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver was a pathetic display of abdication from both Cuomo and the state Legislature, and voters are getting fed up.

The poll numbers that should get the attention of the Second Floor are that 48 percent of voters prefer a new governor, compared with 46 percent that would like to see him re-elected. While it’s probably too early for that to be a serious concern, Cuomo is severely misjudging the mood of the electorate, particularly with regard to ethics, on which the governor has received overwhelmingly negative marks – a combined 71 percent of voters give Cuomo “fair” or “poor” marks on reducing corruption in the state.

“New Yorkers are in a sour mood on corruption, and on the legislative session,” said Bruce Gyory, a political consultant who monitors polls closely. “He walked into kind of a hornet’s nest by excessively praising the productivity of the legislative session, which nobody buys.”

The saving grace for Cuomo’s re-election prospects (still two years away) is that his rumored prospective challengers are still largely unknown quantities, including Preet Bharara, the vaunted U.S. Attorney of the Southern District who has made it his mission to end corruption. A whopping 64 percent of voters don’t know Bharara, who has consistently denied interest in running for governor, which suggests that unless Bharara begins a truly shameless publicity campaign (in the vein of Rudy Giuliani), the drumbeat for a gubernatorial campaign will fade. Ditto for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (35 percent favorability rating, but 44 percent don’t know who he is), another liberal darling who has raised his public profile, but not to the extent of his predecessors, Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer, who used that office as a launching pad to the governor’s mansion.

But while Cuomo may not be sweating just yet, Republican state Senators certainly should be, as the poll numbers appear to be trending toward a possible flipping of control of the chamber back to the Democrats. While 48 percent of voters said they would likely re-elect their state Senator, compared with 37 percent who wouldn’t, along party lines the numbers are more stark for the GOP – 41 percent in favor of re-election, vs. 48 percent against, while Democratic incumbents look to be more safe – 58 to 28 percent.

Keep an eye on Long Island as the potential manifestation of this split, with four competitive state Senate races expected this fall, two of which are held by Republicans (Kemp Hannon and Carl Marcellino), with one being vacated by GOP state Sen. Jack Martins (running for the retiring U.S. Rep. Steve Israel’s seat), and the other won by Democrat Todd Kaminsky in April’s special election to replace Skelos. All of these incumbents have a tough opponent in the general election, and with Nassau and Suffolk being swing counties, if the Democrats win two or three of these races, that could tip the balance of power in the Senate.

One final poll take-away: Remember back in April when some pundits were saying Donald Trump had a chance to win New York in November? Siena’s numbers show Hillary Clinton trumping The Donald 54-31, with Trump’s unfavorable rating at an unfathomable 68 percent. Those results effectively put that misguided analysis to bed.

NEXT STORY: Albany’s wasted ethics crisis