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.
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.
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."