Voters Say Corruption is Serious Problem

NY state building

Voters Say Corruption is Serious Problem but Are Paying
Little Attention to Moreland or Federal Investigation
Cuomo Lead Over Astorino Drops a Bit; Still Leads by 32 Points
Only 13 Percent Think Actions of Cuomo/Staff Are Potentially Criminal
DiNapoli Extends Lead to 34 Points; Schneiderman Ups Lead to 27 Points

Loudonville, NY. The last three weeks have produced extensive media coverage about United States Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo’s now defunct Moreland Commission. Voters say corruption in state government is a serious problem, yet, two-thirds are unfamiliar with the Moreland Commission or its work and nearly two-thirds say they’ve heard little or nothing about Bharara’s investigation. Despite the political swirl, Cuomo continues to lead Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino by 32 points, down a little from 37-points three weeks ago, according to today’s Siena College Poll of likely New York gubernatorial voters.

While 13 percent of likely voters say the actions of the Governor and his staff regarding Moreland are potentially criminal, 16 percent say they are inappropriate but not a crime and four percent say they are perfectly appropriate, 63 percent say they don’t have enough information to make a decision. Nearly half of voters say they believe the recent newspaper report concluding that the Governor’s office interfered with the Moreland Commission, while only one-quarter say they believe the Governor’s explanation that his office was simply providing information.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli leads Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci by 34 points, up from 31 points, while Attorney General Eric Schneiderman extended his lead to 27 points over John Cahill, from 22 points.

“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. “Voters see corruption as a serious problem but not one they pay a lot of attention to.”

“While 32 percent say they’re familiar with Moreland or its work, 67 percent are not. Sixty-four percent say they’ve heard nothing or not very much about the federal investigation of the Moreland Commission. And a similar 63 percent say they don’t have enough information to judge whether actions by the Governor and his staff should be characterized as potentially criminal, simply inappropriate, or perfectly appropriate,” Greenberg said.

“When given a choice, by a two-to-one margin, or 49 to 25 percent, voters say they believe newspaper reports that the Governor and his office interfered with the Moreland Commission’s work, rather than believing the Governor’s explanation that they were appropriately providing information to the commission,” Greenberg said.

“Democrat Cuomo continues to have a commanding lead over Republican Astorino, although it is down slightly from last month,” Greenberg said. “Cuomo has the support of more than three-quarters of Democrats, more than half of independents and one-third of Republicans. Astorino has made up little ground, trailing Cuomo by 60 points in New York City, 25 points in the downstate suburbs and 14 points among upstate voters. Among the 67 percent of likely voters unfamiliar with Moreland, Cuomo leads 62-19 percent, however, among the 32 percent familiar with Moreland, Cuomo only leads 49-41 percent.

“Which candidate do voters trust to do a better job cleaning up Albany corruption? About half of voters say neither one of them. Only 14 percent of voters, including 28 percent of Republicans, say they trust Astorino to do the better job, while 29 percent, including 42 percent of Democrats, say they trust Cuomo,” Greenberg said.

“Corruption is far from the top issue for voters when deciding who to support for governor. Jobs is number one at 28 percent, followed by taxes at 21 percent, education at 20 percent and government corruption at 17 percent. Among Astorino voters, the top two are taxes and corruption, while Cuomo voters say the top two are jobs and education.”

Cuomo’s favorability rating is 57-36 percent (down a little from 61-35 percent last month) and his job performance is 44-55 percent (down from 50-49 percent). By a 51-38 percent margin, voters say they are prepared to re-elect Cuomo compared to preferring ‘someone else’ (54-38 percent in June). Astorino has a 24-20 percent favorability rating, with 57 percent having no opinion (20-19-61 percent last month). Howie Hawkins has a 7-7-86 percent favorability rating (9-11-81 in July). Prosecutor Bharara has an 11-8-81 percent favorability rating.

“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,” Greenberg said.

“Voters continue to believe that Cuomo has made New York a better place to live in the last four years, a view held by 55 percent, down slightly from 59 percent last month. Only 16 percent say he’s made New York a worse place to live and 23 percent say it’s about the same now as it was then,” Greenberg said.

“Despite several weeks of bad press and the inability to control the federal prosecutor’s investigation, for the moment, with now 12 weeks until election day, Cuomo remains in electoral control of the election. Astorino has yet to be able to gain traction with voters for either himself or his arguments against Cuomo,” Greenberg said.

DiNapoli & Schneiderman Extend Already Large Leads Over Largely Unknown Opponents

DiNapoli has 26-13-61 percent favorability rating (from 28-16-56 percent last month). Currently, 41 percent say they are prepared to re-elect him, with 25 percent preferring ‘someone else’ (up from 36-34 percent last month). Antonacci, has a 9-9-82 percent favorability rating (from 9-12-79 percent in July).

Schneiderman has a 25-16-59 percent favorability rating (from 26-18-56 percent last month). He has a
39-25 percent re-elect rating (from 39-33 percent last month). Cahill has a 10-9-80 percent favorability rating (from 14-12-74 percent in July).

“While Astorino was able to tighten the gubernatorial race by five points, his Republican running mates for Comptroller and Attorney General saw their races move a little in the opposite direction. DiNapoli widened his lead over Antonacci to 58-24 percent, up a bit from 57-26 percent last month. And Schneiderman’s lead over Cahill also edged up, from 53-31 percent in July to 54-27 percent today,” Greenberg said.

Plurality of Voters Still Say State is on Right Track; Republicans and Upstaters Disagree

“By a 47-40 percent margin, likely voters say New York is on the right track, not headed in the wrong direction, little changed from 49-40 percent last month,” Greenberg said. “A majority of Democrats, independents and New York City voters say the state is on the right track. However, by two-to-one, Republicans say the state is headed in the wrong direction, and by a 10-point margin upstaters agree with them. Downstate suburbanites are evenly divided. Not surprisingly, by a 67-21 percent margin, voters supporting Cuomo say the state is on the right track, while by a 74-19 percent margin, voters supporting Astorino say the state is headed in the wrong direction.”

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This Siena College Poll was conducted August 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. Data was statistically adjusted by age, party, region, race/ethnicity, and gender to ensure representativeness. Sampling was conducted via random digit dialing to landline and cell phones weighted to reflect known population patterns and historic New York State gubernatorial turnout. 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:

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