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NY voters not focused on Moreland controversy, poll shows

ALBANY -- The latest poll shows that most voters aren't following the corruption commission controversy in Albany involving Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who continues to hold a commanding lead in his re-election bid.

Despite what was probably Cuomo's most difficult three weeks in office, in which he fended off criticism of his role in the Moreland Commission on public corruption, he lost little of his significant lead over Republican Rob Astorino, said Siena spokesman Steven Greenberg. Sixty-seven percent of voters in the poll said they were unfamiliar with the commission and 63 percent said they didn't have enough information to draw an opinion about the governor's actions in the Moreland matter.

Cuomo is accused in newspaper reports of interfering with the corruption commission he created, but Cuomo said he and his top aide, Lawrence Schwartz, were only providing needed advice the commission could accept or reject. A co-chairman of the commission supports Cuomo's role.

However, when asked to choose between the newspaper reports and Cuomo's explanation, a plurality chose the former, the poll found.

"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.

Cuomo leads Astorino, the Westchester County executive, by 32 points in the poll, compared to a 37-point spread three weeks ago.

Of the 32 percent of voters who said they were familiar with the Moreland Commission conflict, Cuomo leads Astorino 49-41 percent.

"The race for New York governor is now an 8-point contest -- 49-41 -- among New Yorkers aware of the unraveling scandal involving Governor Andrew Cuomo's Moreland Commission," Astorino's campaign stated. "When people realize they were burned again by another Albany politician, they become quickly ready to throw Andrew Cuomo aside."

Cuomo's favorability rating is at 57 percent, down slightly from 61 percent last month. His job performance approval is down to 44 percent, from 50 percent last month.

Still, 51 percent of voters say they are prepared to re-elect the Democrat, compared to a month ago when 54 percent said they would prefer "someone else."

"This has been a tough period for the governor, but apparently the Astorino campaign didn't have the resources to trumpet it," Greenberg said. "For the moment, the governor has weathered the storm."

The poll questioned 863 likely voters Aug. 4-7 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

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