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Poll: Hochul has double-digit lead over potential Democratic primary field

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks on Sept. 23 in

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks on Sept. 23 in West Hempstead. Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY — A poll released Tuesday shows Gov. Kathy Hochul with a double-digit lead over a field of potential Democratic primary opponents led by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The Siena College Research Institute poll found Hochul is seen positively in the job she assumed in August after Cuomo resigned. But the poll also shows some concern about her job performance and a lack of support beyond Democratic voters.

In a potential Democratic primary fight in 2022, the poll of registered voters found Hochul would get 31% of the vote, Cuomo would get 17%, and state Attorney General Letitia James would get 14%.

Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment accusations shortly after James released her investigative report into the claims. The report and resignation by Cuomo raised James’ political profile and prompted some supporters to urge her to run for governor. James, however, hasn’t said she is interested in running and Cuomo’s former spokeswoman said Cuomo isn’t planning a run for the job he held for three terms.

The poll also found New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would receive 6% of the primary vote and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams would attract 7%. The mayor and Williams said they are considering a run for governor in 2022.

"Predicting June’s Democratic gubernatorial ballot 36 weeks from primary day, four months before a state party convention with only Hochul declared is not for the faint hearted," said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg. "That said, Siena presented Democrats with three potential primary matchups and in each case, Hochul leads by double digits."

In a Marist College poll released last week, Hochul also had a double-digit lead over potential Democratic primary opponents.

Hochul of Buffalo faces the stiffest challenge in New York City, where most of the Democratic primary voters live, according to the Siena poll. But Hochul gains an edge on Long Island and other downstate suburbs and upstate, Greenberg said. James has a strong base in Brooklyn, a key to the New York City Black vote, if she should seek to become the state’s first Black woman governor.

James leads Hochul with Black Democrats in all three configurations, while Hochul is ahead by even larger margins with both white and Latino Democrats, Greenberg said. He said Hochul also is favored most by liberals and moderates.

But the poll also shows some potential weakness for Hochul, who has been on the job a little more than 50 days.

The poll found 43% of all voters questioned rated Hochul’s job performance as excellent or good, while 45% rated her performance fair or poor. While she was rated excellent or good by 59% of Democrats, she was rated fair or poor by 57% of voters not enrolled in a party. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans rated her performance fair or poor.

Voters were split, rating her 42% excellent/good and 44% fair/poor on her ability to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and 39% to 38% in handling natural disasters such as recent flooding in New York City. Forty-eight percent of all voters said she is only fair or poor in cleaning up corruption in Albany and in strengthening the economy.

The Siena poll was conducted Oct. 10 through Friday. It contacted 801 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Questions posed only to Democrats about that party’s primary have a margin of error of plus or minus 5.4 percentage points.

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