Poll: Voters Unaware, Unconcerned About N.Y. Gov. Cuomo's Ethics

Image: Poll: Voters Unaware, Unconcerned About N.Y. Gov. Cuomo's Ethics New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Slaven Vlasic/Stringer/Getty Images)

Monday, 11 Aug 2014 12:25 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reaping the benefits of a public that is disengaged or disinterested as polls show an ongoing federal investigation having little impact on his re-election prospects.

A survey released Monday by Loudonville, N.Y.-based Siena College finds Cuomo's 32-point lead over Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has only decreased by five points from a survey released three weeks ago.

The poll, which was taken of likely gubernatorial voters, reported that 67 percent said they were unfamiliar with the Moreland Commission, and 63 percent said they did not know enough to make a judgment.

"Albany insiders and political junkies are certainly talking lots about Moreland, Bharara, investigations, and the like, but most New York voters are spending their summer not following any of that news," said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg in a press release.
"Voters see corruption as a serious problem but not one they pay a lot of attention to," he added.

The Siena College Poll was conducted Aug. 4-7, 2014, by telephone calls to 863 likely New York State registered voters. It has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points.

Voters who are unfamiliar with the investigation supported Cuomo 62 percent to 19 percent. He has a 49 percent to 41 percent advantage among the 32 percent who do know something about the Moreland affair.

Respondents in the Siena poll identified jobs as their main concern (28 percent), followed by taxes (21 percent), and education (20 percent). Government corruption only rated fourth on the list with 17 percent of voters saying it was a concern.

Cuomo has denied that he acted improperly or unethically in relation to the Moreland Commission, which he created on July 2, 2013, "to probe systemic corruption and the appearance of such corruption in state government, political campaigns and elections in New York state."

In its initial stages, investigators for the Moreland Commission uncovered allegations of possible campaign finance violations involving Cuomo associates, including a media-buying firm that had performed work for the governor in the past, and charges that subpoenas were scuttled improperly, reports The New York Times.

Only halfway through its 18-month term, Cuomo shut the commission down.

"Cuomo continues to be liked by voters, and a majority are still inclined to want to re-elect him. Astorino remains unknown to more than half of voters, with only a slightly net positive favorability rating," Siena's Greenberg said.

An NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Aug. 4 also found little impact.

While Cuomo's approval rating remained stable, support for the governor among those who believe corruption is a problem slightly diminished.

Cuomo leads Astorino 44 percent to 32 percent among those voters, but that was down from the 50 percent to 31 percent advantage in Marist's previous poll.

"Among voters keyed into the issue, the political storm is taking a toll on their views of Gov. Cuomo. But he has managed to keep the fallout at arm’s length where his re-election is concerned," Lee M. Miringoff, Director of Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion said in a statement accompanying the poll's release.

"The problem for Rob Astorino is that the controversy involving Gov. Cuomo’s office has not, so far, shaken up the race. Neither have voters’ impressions of Astorino improved," he added.

Just 23 percent said the controversy would be a major factor in who they would support in the November election. Conversely, 41 percent viewed it as a "minor factor" and 30 percent described it as a non-factor.

While allegations that members of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration closed the George Washington Bridge to punish political adversaries have garnered more media coverage, the Marist survey found just over half (51 percent) of New York state voters believe that controversy is worse than the Moreland Commission scandal.

"The Moreland story is still relatively new, but even by this time in the bridge-gate news cycle, the national media had produced perhaps 10 times as much coverage of Christie’s woes," wrote Steven Malanga in the Manhattan Institute's City Journal.

Not surprisingly, partisanship drove the results. Among Democrats, 58 percent saw the problems in New Jersey as more egregious than Cuomo’s, while 56 percent of Republicans thought Cuomo's actions were worse than Christie's.

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