Cuomo Begins ’14 in Strong Position; Ratings with Voters Up

NY state building

• Cuomo Begins ’14 in Strong Position; Ratings with Voters Up
• Strong Support for Many of Governor’s State of the State Proposals
• Voters: ‘Yes’ to Medical Marijuana; ‘No’ to Legalizing Recreational Use
• Chris Christie Hits Roadblock with New Yorkers as Favorability Rating Falls

Loudonville, NY. Andrew Cuomo begins his fourth year as governor and his anticipated re-election campaign in a very strong position, with favorability and job performance ratings bouncing back to their highest levels in nearly a year, and leads of nearly 50 points over both Donald Trump and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, according to a Siena College Poll of New York voters released today. Voters overwhelmingly support many proposals the governor put forward in his State of the State address, including several of his tax proposals.

New Yorkers strongly support legalizing medical marijuana for patients suffering from serious illness, with more than one-quarter supporting the governor’s proposed pilot program and nearly half wanting to move beyond that and legalizing medical marijuana. When it comes to recreational use of marijuana, 54 percent oppose legalizing and regulating marijuana, while 41 percent support it. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s favorability rating has dropped from 63-25 percent in November to 49-39 percent today. In potential 2016 presidential matchups, Christie trails Hillary Clinton by 28 points and Cuomo by 20 points, after leading Cuomo in November.

Cuomo is viewed favorably by 66 percent of voters and unfavorably by 28 percent (up from 61-32 percent in November). Voters give him a positive 54-46 percent job performance rating (up from a negative 44-56 percent in November), while 57 percent are prepared to re-elect him, compared to 33 percent who would prefer someone else (up from 51-41 percent). Astorino has a 14-10 percent favorability rating. Trump’s is 38-57 percent.

“As he enters his re-election year, Cuomo is sitting pretty. His favorability rating is the strongest it’s been since February. His job performance rating is the best it’s been since March. And more voters are prepared to re-elect him than at any time since last January,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

“Looking toward November, Cuomo currently crushes both Astorino, who’s unknown to three-quarters of voters, and Trump, who is viewed unfavorably by 57 percent of voters. Neither Trump nor Astorino garners the support of a majority of Republicans, and both trail among independents by more than 40 points,” Greenberg said.
Cuomo State of the State Proposals Have Broad Support

“Several Cuomo State of the State proposals are supported by more than three-quarters of voters: increasing penalties on young voters who text while driving, revoking drivers’ licenses for three DWI convictions, instituting universal Pre-K, and approving a $2 billion education technology bond act. Support remains strong for public campaign financing, as it has for a year, with nearly two-thirds support,” Greenberg said.

“Cuomo’s proposal to take over construction at the two New York City airports from the Port Authority has plurality support. Democrats and New York City voters support it two-to-one, while downstate suburbanites and independents are closely divided and more Republicans and upstaters oppose it than support it,” Greenberg said. “Additionally, five of the tax proposals advanced by the governor also enjoy widespread support.”

Legalizing Medical Marijuana Strongly Supported; Majority Opposes Legalizing Recreational Use
“While 28 percent of voters support the governor’s approach of a pilot program to provide medical marijuana to patients, 49 percent think New York should follow the lead of about 20 other states and legalize medical marijuana. Overall, more than two-thirds of voters from every party, region and demographic group support some form of allowing patients with serious illnesses having access to medical marijuana, with the exception of conservatives, 58 percent of whom support it,” Greenberg said.

“When it comes to legalizing marijuana for recreational use, a majority say no. Voters under 35 say yes, as do a bare majority of men. Democrats and independents are closely divided but Republicans are a strong no,” Greenberg said. “New Yorkers are not yet ready to duplicate what they see in the Mile High City.”

George Washington Bridge Scandal Imposes Speed Bump on New Yorkers’ View of Christie
“The ongoing George Washington Bridge scandal has taken a significant toll on how many New Yorkers feel about the New Jersey governor. While his favorability rating remains strong, albeit less strong, among Republicans and downstate suburbanites, his rating among Democrats and New York City voters has fallen in two months from about two-to-one positive to near break-even. Among independents and upstaters his ratings have fallen from being strongly favorable to now just a plurality viewing him favorably,” Greenberg said.

“Just two months ago, Christie trailed Hillary Clinton by 16 points and led Cuomo by five points in hypothetical 2016 presidential matchups. Today, Christie trails Clinton by 28 points and he trails Cuomo by 20 points,” Greenberg said. “Christie’s image with New Yorkers – particularly Democrats and independents – has hit a major speed bump. Will he be able to navigate the serious repair work he has in front of him?”

Fewer than Half Think Race Relations in New York Are Excellent or Good
“As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, 47 percent of voters describe race relations in New York as excellent or good, down from 54 percent last year, while 51 percent say they are only fair or poor, up from 46 percent,” Greenberg said. “Twice as many voters say race relations are poor, 14 percent, as say they are excellent, seven percent. Half of white voters and nearly half of Latino voters say race relations are excellent or good, however, two-thirds of black New Yorkers describe them as fair or poor, with more than one-quarter saying poor.”

Voters’ View of the State Legislature Improves
“More voters now view the State Senate favorably, 46 percent, than unfavorably, 42 percent, up from a negative 35-52 percent favorability rating in November,” Greenberg said. “The Assembly also gained ground with voters, though not as much, and now has a near break-even 41-43 percent favorability rating, up from 34-48 percent.”

Voters Not Very Familiar with Schneiderman & DiNapoli
“Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli remain unfamiliar to more than half of voters. Ten months from Election Day, only 29 percent say they are currently prepared to re-elect Schneiderman, with 33 percent preferring ‘someone else.’ Similarly, DiNapoli has a 35-30 percent re-elect rating. Both appear vulnerable, although serious opposition has not yet emerged against either,” Greenberg said.

Majority Think New York is Headed on the Right Track; Nation Headed in Wrong Direction
“By a 52-36 percent margin, voters think New York is headed on the right track, up from 46-44 percent in November,” Greenberg said. “New Yorkers’ view on the direction of the country has improved, 37-55 percent, up from 19-74 percent in October, although a majority continues to see the nation headed in the wrong direction.”
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This Siena College Poll was conducted January 12-16, 2014 by telephone calls to 808 New York State registered voters. It has an overall margin of error of + 3.4 percentage points. Data was statistically adjusted by age, party, region and gender to ensure representativeness. Sampling was conducted via random digit dialing to landline and cell phones weighted to reflect known population patterns. The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in New York State. SRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. For more information, call Steve Greenberg at (518) 469-9858. For survey cross-tabs: