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Poll shows AG James could be stronger than Cuomo against GOP in a run for governor

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, and Attorney General

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, and Attorney General Letitia James, right. Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY — A new poll shows Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would beat a Republican for reelection next year in a hypothetical matchup despite the controversies Cuomo faces, but state Attorney General Letitia James would do better.

The Siena College Research Institute poll released Monday showed that 48% of New Yorkers would prefer Cuomo over an unnamed Republican, compared with 38% who favored a GOP candidate. While that gave Cuomo a 10-percentage point margin, James enjoyed a 17- percentage point lead in the poll, with 46% preferring her over an unnamed Republican compared with 29% who preferred a Republican.

Cuomo faces the biggest political fight of his career over sexual harassment allegations, questions about his $5.1 million memoir on leadership released during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the U.S. Justice Department’s probe into his handling of the virus in nursing homes. The Democratic-led Assembly also is investigating many of those accusations, which could lead to impeachment proceedings.

James, a first-term attorney general, hasn’t announced any interest in running for governor. But her investigation of Cuomo’s scandals has raised expectations by her supporters.

"While James does better than Cuomo against an unnamed Republican with nearly every demographic group, it’s independent voters that stand out," said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. "Independent voters side with James by 3 points over an unnamed Republican, while the unnamed Republican beats Cuomo by 18 points with independents."

The poll, however, showed Cuomo still has support in a state dominated more than 2:1 by Democrats.

A plurality of voters polled — 49% — don’t want Cuomo to resign over the sexual abuse accusations, That 49% to 42% spread is narrower than the spread in April’s poll, when 51% of New Yorkers said he shouldn’t resign compared with 37% who said he should.

Cuomo’s favorability rating is 44% approval and 48% disapproval, a rise from last month’s mark of 40% approval and 52% disapproval, according to the poll.

On job performance, 42% of those polled gave him a positive job performance, while 55% didn’t. That’s statistically unchanged from last month.

As for the sexual harassment accusations made by several women, most of whom had worked in the governor’s office, 42% of voters believe Cuomo committed sexual harassment compared with 24% who don’t. That's statistically unchanged from April.

The poll questioned 793 registered voters May 16 through Thursday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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