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ALBANY -- A poll of likely voters shows that Democrat Andrew M. Cuomo continues his strong lead in the governor's race, but the poll also found continued opposition to the higher academic standards of the Common Core, a cause targeted by Republican challenger Rob Astorino.
Cuomo held a 37-point lead over the Westchester County executive in the Siena College Research Institute poll released Monday. That was the institute's first poll of likely voters based on past voting patterns rather than simply polling registered voters.
Cuomo's 60-23 percent margin reflects support for his record. The poll found 59 percent said Cuomo made New York a better place in his four-year term, while 15 percent said he made it worse. Twenty-one percent said the state is the same shape as when he won office. Voters, however, were split over their view of his job performance -- 50-49 percent.
Suburban voters were slightly more pessimistic about the condition and future of New York than voters statewide, the poll showed.
In more than six months of campaigning, Astorino hasn't yet made a big impact on New Yorkers, according to poll spokesman Steven Greenberg. But Astorino also has said he will run on an additional ballot line named "Stop the Common Core," which could draw some votes in the state dominated 2:1 by Democratic voters.
The poll showed that 49 percent of voters want to see the Common Core stopped, compared to 39 percent who want it to continue.
"While a majority of New York City voters and a plurality of Democrats think Common Core standards should continue to be implemented, a majority of Republicans, independents and upstaters, and a plurality of downstate suburbanites, think implementation should be stopped," Greenberg said. "A majority of white voters want implementation stopped, a majority of black voters want implementation continued, and Hispanic voters are evenly divided."
Cuomo has supported the higher academic standards of the national Common Core, which is tied to $700 million in a federal grant secured by New York. But Cuomo said the rollout by the state Board of Regents has been flawed.
The poll found 13 percent of likely voters believe general economic issues were the most important issue compared to 12 percent for general education.
The poll's use of likely voters is an important distinction. For example, although heavily Democratic New York City has 39 percent of the state's registered voters, election trends show New York City voters will likely be just 30 percent of the turnout for the governor's race. While upstate has 35 percent of the state's registered voters, 44 percent are expected to vote in the governor's race. Suburban voters account for 26 percent of registered voters and are expected to provide 26 percent of the vote for governor.
The poll questioned 774 likely voters July 13-16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.