Siena poll: James does better than Cuomo against a GOP gubernatorial candidate

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference in New York City on May 21, 2021. | Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

ALBANY, NY. – New York Attorney General Tish James did better than Governor Andrew Cuomo in a hypothetical gubernatorial battle against an unnamed Republican opponent. This is according to a new poll released Monday by the Siena College Research Institute.

The survey also found that the contested governor’s favoritism ratings have stabilized after several months of decline. He is embroiled in multiple scandals, prompting James to open an investigation while the State Assembly examines impeachment articles.

In next year’s gubernatorial election, voters said they would choose James over an unnamed Republican by a margin of 46-29. That’s a 17 point lead.

You would prefer Cuomo to an unnamed Republican by a margin of 48-38. That’s a 10 point lead.

However, it would be difficult to say that these numbers clearly indicate that James, who has investigated the myriad of allegations against Cuomo and made no current suggestions about her future ambitions, would be a favorite in a hypothetical grade school.

While Siena didn’t ask for a head-to-head match, it did ask if voters want Cuomo to win a fourth term, and the Democrats backed that idea by a margin of 56-33. And much of James’ advantage in going up against nameless Republicans comes from more Republicans and Independents saying they don’t know who she is and declining to respond.

But much of Cuomo’s strength during his tenure was his aura of inevitability. One may have to go back to 2002 to find a poll that got everyone as good as they did on an election poll. The new Siena outcome could detract from that aura at a time when he’s facing more political dangers than ever before.

Cuomo’s wider numbers: A total of 44 percent of respondents say they see Cuomo positively, while 48 percent say they see Cuomo negatively. That’s an improvement over the 40-52 he hit in April.

On the question of resigning, 41 percent said he should resign immediately, 49 percent said not to. Compared to 37-51 in April.

When it came to questions about dealing with Covid-19, he did well.

“Overall, his number remains high thanks to the Democrats when it comes to the work he continues to do during the pandemic,” said Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg. “For any pandemic measure other than nursing home data, at least two-thirds of Democrats give Cuomo a positive rating. However, at least 64 percent of Republicans give him negative grades on all pandemic issues, and independents give him either negative or, at best, break-even grades. ”

James was rated positively by a margin of 38-20. That’s pretty much in line with where she was – she was between 39 and 17, between 40 and 14, and between 36 and 17 in other recent polls in Siena – although the 20 percent that looked at her unfavorably was the highest number she ever received.

The Republican gubernatorial candidates: Rep. Lee Zeldin was rated positively with a margin of 20-19. Compared to 18-17 in April.

Former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino interviewed between 20 and 15. Compared to 32-41 in October 2014, just before his last inauguration as governor ended in loss to Cuomo.

Siena spoke to 793 registered voters May 16-20, and the numbers have a 4 point margin of error. View the crosstabs here.

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