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Hochul passes first polling test

AP file photo New York governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a ceremony to sign a package of bills to combat the opioid crisis, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in New York.

Gov. Kathy Hochul appears to have passed her first public opinion test with flying colors.

A Marist Institute for Public Opinion Poll released Tuesday shows Hochul, in her first major poll since becoming governor, with more public support than any of the current potential Democratic Party challengers for governor next year. In a hypothetical three-way race between Hochul, current Attorney General Letitia James and Jumaane Williams, the New York City Public Advocate who has announced he is running for governor, 44% of those contacted said they would vote for Hochul, with James getting 28% of respondents’ support and Williams 15%.

In a four-way race, Hochul garnered 36% of respondents’ support, followed by 24% for James, 19% for former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and 9% for Williams. Cuomo’s inclusion in the poll was noteworthy given the $18 million Cuomo has in his campaign bank account and a couple of cryptic notes that hinted at a possible run.

“Governor Hochul is doing well among New Yorkers in terms of her performance in office and is the frontrunner among Democrats in her primary prospects for the nomination,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. “Andrew Cuomo needs to substantially redefine voters’ perceptions of him if he wants to run for governor again.”

Fifty days after being sworn in, Hochul enjoys positive support from state residents. More than half rate her favorably (55%), her approval rating is 18 percentage points higher than her disapproval rating (49% to 31%), and 56% say she is a “good leader” for the state. All is not rosy for Hochul, however. When asked if Hochul represents all regions of the state, Republicans disagreed, 34% to 59%, a stark difference from the 61% of Democrats who said she fairly represents all regions of the state.

As for Cuomo, 77% of New Yorkers who responded to the poll saying they do not want him to run to reclaim the office next year, including 74% of Democrats.The former governor’s $18.3 million campaign account is still marked active on the state Board of Elections’ website while Cuomo’s website shows a “donate” button and is still attacking James over her handling of the probe into Cuomo’s conduct.

In a recent letter to supporters paid for by Andrew Cuomo for New York Inc., Cuomo said the Attorney General’s report was politically motivated and an effort by Albany insiders to remove him from office when voters would not.

“I fear the state is in a dangerous moment,” Cuomo wrote in the letter. “We are seeing extremists and political expediency rule the day and ‘the tail is wagging the dog’ in the Democratic Party. Government incompetence, political slogans and pandering are prevailing. Twitter has overtaken political dialogue. This is not New York at her finest and we must never settle for less than the people of the state deserve. Albany insiders underestimate the people of the state. New Yorkers have seen effective government that works for them and they will not return to the old days. We must all do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The poll also asked about people’s view of the state’s current direction. New Yorkers are negative on the current direction of the state, according to poll respondents, with 39% saying the state is going in the right direction and 54% saying it’s going in the wrong one. Marist officials said it is the lowest “right direction” number (other than in August of this year when it was 35%) since a similar poll on Oct. 30, 2010, when 18% thought the state was going in the right direction. That poll came a week before Cuomo was elected for his first term.

The poll also did not address the Republican Party’s candidate for governor, Rep. Lee Zeldin.

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