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Cuomo holds 20-point lead over Astorino, poll shows

In this combination of two file photos, Westchester

In this combination of two file photos, Westchester County executive and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, left, and incumbent New York Governor Andrew Cuomo are shown. Credit: AP

ALBANY -- A poll released Wednesday found Democrat Andrew M. Cuomo had a 20-point lead over Republican Rob Astorino in the race for governor.

The Quinnipiac University Poll shows a 51-31 percent lead among likely voters for the incumbent governor over Astorino, the Westchester County executive. Howie Hawkins, the liberal Green Party candidate, had 9 percent. Another 8 percent were undecided.

"It ain't over til it's over, but more than two-thirds of voters say their minds are made up," Quinnipiac University pollster Maurice Carroll said.

That 20-point divide is the closest margin yet in a statewide poll. A Siena College Research Institute poll on Sept. 26 gave Cuomo a 29-point lead among likely voters.

"People are starting to look at this race in real way," Astorino told WGDJ-AM in Albany on Wednesday. "We have been making progress every stop of the way."

The poll shows a strong advantage for Cuomo among female voters after he held a "Women's Equality" bus tour through upstate on Saturday. Cuomo has tried to make the election a referendum on his record and his effort to further protect the right to late-term abortions, although there is no threat to abortion rights in Albany.

Astorino has tried to make the contest about jobs, the economy and corruption in Albany now being investigated by a federal prosecutor.

Astorino called Cuomo's focus on abortion a diversion to avoid answering questions about U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's investigation of Cuomo's corruption commission and the governor's involvement in the commission created as an independent panel.

Astorino opposes abortion, but said he wouldn't try to alter abortion rights, and the Democrat-led Assembly could stop any erosion of the law.

"I don't see how it's going to help women in New York if there are no jobs," Astorino said. He called Cuomo's claim that abortion rights are threatened or would be threatened by Astorino "nonsense."

Cuomo had no immediate comment.

Democrats have a 2-1 voter enrollment advantage over Republicans.

Consistent with other statewide polls, the Quinnipiac poll found just 50 percent of likely voters had a favorable view of Cuomo, a decline from ratings in most of his term. But the poll also showed 62 percent of the voters had an unfavorable view of Astorino.

The battle for the independent vote is closer, although Cuomo still has a 10-point advantage.

Astorino has little campaign cash to air TV ads to try to attract more support.

State filings last week showed the Republican had just $1.2 million left in his campaign account compared with Cuomo's $23.7 million. Astorino has been unable to match the TV campaign ad blitzes by Cuomo over the summer and into fall, many of which criticize and attack Astorino.

The poll shows Democratic Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman had a 46-34 percent lead over Republican John Cahill in the closest statewide race.

Democratic state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli had a 56-28 percent lead over Republican Bob Antonacci, the Onondaga county comptroller.

The poll questioned 1,153 likely voters from Oct. 1 to Monday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

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