July 9, 2014
7/9: Cuomo Outdistancing Largely Unknown GOP Challenger Astorino
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has a sizable lead over his Republican challenger, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in this Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 NY/Marist Poll. Cuomo is advantaged by strong support from his Democratic base, in addition, to leading among independents and even attracting a notable proportion of Republicans. Despite voters’ lingering concerns about the economy, Astorino has had difficulty getting traction. A majority of voters do not have an opinion of him, and those who do, divide. Governor Cuomo even outperforms his challenger among voters who see the state as still needing major changes or who see taxes or economic development as the top state priority.
“The combination of Cuomo’s standing and voters’ lack of familiarity with Astorino has resulted in a lopsided contest for governor in this Democratic state,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Getting well known requires a lot of resources which will be more than matched by the governor’s war chest.”
- 59% of registered voters statewide, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, support Governor Cuomo in his re-election bid compared with 24% for Republican Rob Astorino. Six percent back Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate. In March, Cuomo led Astorino by 40 points, 65% to 25%. The Green Party candidate was not included in the previous poll.
- Although Astorino tops Cuomo by two to one among Republicans, Cuomo still garners the support of 30% of the GOP. In contrast, Astorino attracts only 4% of Democrats.
- Cuomo even leads Astorino, 50% to 31%, among voters who believe New York State needs major changes or is broken and beyond repair. The governor also bests Astorino among those who cite taxes or economic development as the state’s top priority.
- 58% of registered voters have a positive view of the governor, a slight decline since March when 63% shared this view (Trend). But, Astorino is still not well known statewide. A majority of voters, 54%, do not offer an opinion of him. 23% rate him positively, and 23% view him negatively.
- Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Democratic primary challenger Zephyr Teachout are not known by most voters.
Voters’ Impressions of the Governor Account for Wide Lead
- 55% are confident the Governor is changing the way things work in Albany for the better. 68% of Democrats, 46% of independents, and 45% of Republicans have this view.
- Still, 57% of voters think the state is in need of major changes, and 7% believe it is broken and beyond repair. When Cuomo first took office in January 2011, 73% of voters believed major changes in state government were essential, and 10% thought the state was beyond fixing.
- 45% see Cuomo as a moderate, 34% view him as a liberal, and 12% describe him as conservative. Close to half, 46%, are unsure about Astorino’s political ideology.
- Cuomo’s job approval rating has improved six points – climbing from 42% in March to 48% now. (Trend) This is in stark contrast to the 26% approval rating of the NYS Senate (Trend) and the 25% positive score for the NYS Assembly. (Trend)
Economy Still Top Challenge
Voters point to a number of economic issues when asked about their top priority for the state. Jobs, economic development, and taxes are three of the top four issues cited. Education ranks second, overall.
- Voters divide about whether the state is on track. (Trend) 47% believe it is on the right path, while 46% disagree. This is comparable to results seen in March.
- 60% still believe the state remains in a recession although this is down from 65% four months ago. (Trend) Impressions about the economy have improved slightly in New York City and its suburbs, but there has been little change Upstate.
- A sign that voters may be more optimistic about the state’s economic future is that 56% believe the worst of the economic slump has passed. A majority of voters in all three regions of the state share this view.
For more analysis see Lee Miringoff’s blog, “Incumbent Cuomo Favored by Those Who Want Change.”