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Poll: Most believe Cuomo did something wrong in handling nursing homes

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Feb. 22.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Feb. 22. Credit: Pool / AFP via Getty Images / Seth Wenig

ALBANY — A poll released Tuesday found 61% of registered voters statewide believe Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo did something wrong in handling nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic while 27% said he didn't. But most don't believe he did anything illegal.

The Marist College poll found 42% of voters believed Cuomo "has done something unethical, but not illegal"; 19% felt he has "done something illegal," and 27% felt he "has done nothing wrong." The rest were unsure or hadn’t heard enough about the issue to comment.

"This is a damaging story," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Poll. "It’s fair to conclude that his reelection prospects will be a challenge."

Among Democrats, the poll said, 44% believed he did something unethical, but not illegal; 33% said he did nothing wrong, and 10% felt he did something illegal. The rest were unsure or didn't know enough about the issue.

Among Republicans, 42% said Cuomo did something unethical, but not illegal; 37% believed he did something illegal, and 14% said he did nothing wrong. The rest were unsure or didn't know enough about the issue.

In the suburbs, which include Long Island, 45% believed he did something unethical; 25% said he did nothing wrong, and 17% felt he did something illegal, according to the poll.

Cuomo is seeking a fourth term in 2022. Miringoff noted that while Cuomo's poll numbers have dropped significantly since the summer when he made national headlines touting his success in combating the virus, they are about the same levels as he had before the pandemic.

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Cuomo Senior Adviser Richard Azzopardi cited a poll by Morning Consult released Monday that showed Cuomo's approval rating at 57%.

"The surveys always vary and we remain focused on fighting this pandemic," Azzopardi said.

Miringoff said recent polls agree the nursing home issue "had taken a toll," but added that "it may have been unreasonable to stay at the numbers he had when he was setting records in July."

Overall, 54% of voters approve of Cuomo's handling of the pandemic compared with 43% who don't approve, the poll said. Among them, 68% of Democrats approve of Cuomo's handling compared with 70% of Republicans who disapprove. Among voters not enrolled in any party, 54% approve of Cuomo's handling of the pandemic.

The poll aso found that 49% approved of Cuomo’s overall job performance, down from 66% in July, the last time Marist did a poll on Cuomo. Among Democrats, 28% disapprove of the way he is doing his job, compared with 9% in July.

Some Republican and Democratic legislators have criticized Cuomo for delaying the release of data on the total number of deaths of nursing home residents from COVID-19. But Miringoff said no specifics were presented in the questions because he said framing the questions with such details can sometimes influence answers. Instead, the New Yorkers were asked to offer their opinion on what they heard or read, regardless of the source.

Cuomo faces calls from Republicans and Democrats in the State Legislature for an investigation. Some legislators have called for impeachment hearings to be held.

Last week, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn opened a criminal investigation into the Cuomo administration's handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

The Marist poll questioned 813 voters Feb. 15 to Feb. 17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

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