Change is usually a welcome sign in politics for a challenger looking to unseat an incumbent. But, so far, in NYS the sentiment to move in a new direction is not providing Rob Astorino, the GOP challenger to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the kind of boost he needs. In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 NY/Marist Poll, 57% of voters think NYS needs major changes. Although this is down from the 73% who held this view when Cuomo first took office, it could provide the foundation for a serious challenge to the first term governor, all things being equal.
But, all things are not equal. 55% of NYS voters are confident Cuomo is changing state government for the better. They see the incumbent as a strong leader and as someone who cares about the average person. Yet, don’t expect a record-breaking re-election for Cuomo. His approval rating at 48% is not off the charts. Although most NYers think the worst of the economic slump is behind them, 60% still think the state is in a recession.
Right now, a majority of NYS voters do not know enough about Astorino to have an opinion of him. That represents an opportunity for him but also carries a risk. Once the Cuomo campaign shifts into high gear, they will try to define Astorino as unacceptable to NY voters. Unless Astorino can set his sails to the winds of change, he will finish a distant second.