Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

ALBANY - Is Sen. Chuck Schumer's rating dipping? Depends whom you ask -- and how you ask the question.

A Siena College poll, released Thursday, found that 61 percent of registered New York voters had a favorable opinion of New York's senior senator while 29 percent had an unfavorable view. Siena said the Democrat's rating has been more or less stable for the last year.

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This contrasted with the headline of a Quinnipiac University poll, released a day earlier, which stated: "Schumer drops to lowest score in 15 years." Quinnipiac said 54 percent approved of the way Schumer is handling his job, while 32 percent disapproved -- Schumer's lowest approval rating since 2000.

On closer inspection, the two surveys weren't asking the same question.

Siena essentially asked about Schumer's likability; Quinnipiac about job performance.

It's not unusual for a politician to score better on the former than the latter.  

Take Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Siena said 50 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the Democrat and 42 percent unfavorable. But just 39 percent said the approved of the way Cuomo is handling his job; 59 percent disapproved.

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Schumer's re-election chances in 2016? Again, depends on how you ask. In the Quinnipiac poll, 56 percent agreed with the statement that Schumer "deserves to be re-elected" while 34 percent disagreed.

In the Siena survey, 49 percent said they would "vote to re-elect" Schumer while 37 percent said they would "prefer someone else."