LOUDONVILLE — New Yorkers’ opinion of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis has slipped in the latest Siena Research Institute poll.
Results of the survey of registered voters were released Wednesday.
Perception of the Democratic governor was slanted somewhat along party lines, with 77% of Democrats surveyed approving of his overall job performance during the pandemic, compared with 53% of independents and 44% of Republicans. The resulting favorability rating is 66%, down from 77% a month earlier.
“Cuomo’s stratospheric ratings from New Yorkers in April have fallen from their record highs but remain very strong as two-thirds of voters still view him favorably, nearly two-thirds give him a positive job performance rating and more than three-quarters still approve of the job he’s doing to address the pandemic,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a news release.
There was also a geographic split: 75% of New York City respondents approved of this performance, vs. 56% in downstate suburbs and 54% upstate.
Other results from the survey:
- 89% support Cuomo’s order for people to wear masks in public when they can’t practice social distancing.
- 81% approve of Cuomo’s communicating with New Yorkers.
- 64% support Cuomo’s plans to reopen the economy.
- 59% have a positive view of Cuomo’s efforts to ensure New Yorkers get unemployment benefits.
- 44% feel Cuomo has addressed the needs of nursing homes, where residents have died by the thousands of COVID-19.
- 75% worry there will be another large outbreak in autumn.
- 65% say the danger of reopening the economy too quickly outweighs the risk of reopening too slowly.
- 57% know someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- 37% know someone who has died of COVID-19.
Cuomo was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning for a meeting with President Trump to press his case for federal infrastructure spending — tens of billions of dollars worth of transit projects in New York City.
He came away empty-handed.
At his daily briefing that afternoon, also from Washington, Cuomo didn’t mention the words “Trump” or “president” once, until prompted. Responding to a reporter’s questions, he said he and Trump would talk again next week, after Trump conferred with his advisers.
Asked by another reporter if he’d pitched Trump on any projects in the rest of the state, outside New York City, Cuomo said he had not.
With 74 COVID-19 patients passing away Tuesday, the official statewide death toll stood at 23,643 on Wednesday, with additional deaths unreported because of circumstances. One of Tuesday’s deaths was in Schenectady County — a woman in her 80s who had been a resident at an adult care facility.
The Siena poll on Cuomo’s performance was released amid a growing restlessness among some members of the Legislature — many of them Republicans and/or upstaters — about Cuomo’s use of his emergency powers and his policies on nursing homes during the pandemic, among other things.
Some have called for a review of the nursing home policies, and whether those factored into the high death toll at those facilities. Others have introduced legislation to limit the scope and duration of a governor’s emergency powers during a crisis.
The Daily Gazette asked 10 Capital Region legislators for their assessment of the governor and received just one unqualified message of support. Here’s what they said:
Sen. George Amedore Jr., R-Rotterdam:
“In times like this, leadership is important, and while I don’t agree with everything the Governor has done, we are in an unprecedented time that requires a leader to make tough decisions. His nursing home policy endangered our seniors and cost lives, and now in an effort to shift focus, nursing homes are being hit with a burdensome testing mandate they just can’t afford. I recognize that there are times when emergency powers are needed and warranted, but at the same time, checks and balances are crucial to ensure sound public policy — in the future, I think such extensions of executive power should be subject to thorough review and evaluation by the Legislature to determine how long they are truly needed.”
Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Albany:
“Governor Cuomo has done a tremendous job navigating the State of New York through this global pandemic. He has also set an example to the rest of the country on how we must utilize health data to ensure that as we begin the process of opening up our economy it is done thoughtfully with the public’s health at the forefront of any decisions.”
Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, D-Albany:
“While I commend the Governor for his leadership and for numerous actions taken throughout this crisis, I share the frustration and concerns surrounding the dismissal and then missteps taken in the state’s nursing homes, which resulted in a tragic loss of lives. I have also repeatedly expressed frustration over a bias of trust towards big-box stores to open responsibly over hard-hit small businesses — the backbone of our Upstate economy. Finally, I am anxious to restore a balance of power in government via the Legislature.”
Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon:
“Governor Cuomo’s showtime performance may have gotten him high ratings at the start, but his overall performance and results during the COVID-19 outbreak have now been marked by failure, incompetence, arrogance, economic pain, and even death. The Governor’s mandates crippled our economy, caused record unemployment, an embarrassing, massive backlog of unemployment claims, and, worst of all, led to the preventable deaths of nearly 6,000 New York senior citizens in nursing homes. New York has seen not only a heartbreaking number of nursing home deaths, but the most number of COVID-19 deaths in our nation. Instead of taking responsibility, the Governor’s played politics. By every measurement, Governor Cuomo has failed New York and his expanded executive powers must be rescinded immediately.”
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam:
“With the reopening process now being discussed, what is apparent is the need for changes in our state government to ensure the legislature remains a co-equal branch of government, even during emergency declarations. During the COVID-19 shutdown, the governor has suspended hundreds of laws through executive orders and much of the reopening plans have gone forward without enough input from the local families and businesses we represent. As we move forward from this crisis, we must establish the necessary safeguards to protect the rights of citizens here in New York and the ability to limit the Governor’s emergency powers when necessary.”
Assemblyman Robert Smullen, R-Meco:
“With extraordinary, emergency executive power comes accountability and responsibility. The Governor’s leadership must be held to a high standard which, sadly, many of our people have found lacking. Too many of my constituents are still waiting for unemployment benefits. Others question the nursing home policy that resulted in tragic consequences for New York’s most vulnerable elderly citizens.”
Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie:
“I voted against giving the Governor dictatorial power in the COVID crisis. While his staff helped us respond to issues raised by my constituents, the Legislature lacked a clear path for input into the process. As usual, the Governor is strong on leadership and public relations, but less so on policy. First, COVID testing should have been in place at the outset, as it was in South Korea and other nations. I was just tested. The DOH process was well-organized and easy. Second, the Governor has no realistic plan to offset the economic crisis. He has called for public works but believes the only funding source is the federal government. I have proposed reinstating the stock transfer tax, which the State had from 1905 to 1980. This would raise $13 billion to fill the budget gap, restore education funding, and initiate a public works program.”
Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie:
“The governor has exploited and drawn out this crisis to raise his national profile and celebrity while ignoring the suffering of New Yorkers throughout the state. As he basks in the limelight of elaborate press conferences and discusses grandiose plans to ‘reimagine’ government, people throughout the state are suffering as they wait weeks for their unemployment benefits, and are unable to go to essential facilities such as houses of worship and dental practices, which are key to maintaining their physical and mental health. The time of necessity for the governor’s emergency powers is long past us, and New Yorkers deserve a return to governance by three co-equal branches where their interests can be effectively represented by those they’ve entrusted to do so.”
Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville:
“Clearly the Governor of New York is not the valedictorian of U.S. Governors dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, especially when it comes to the safety of our nursing home residents and in expediting unemployment insurance claims for thousands of out-of-work New Yorkers. There’s no question in my mind that there needs to be an independent investigation and legislative hearings into the Administration’s handling of nursing homes during this pandemic, which has led to the deaths of nearly 6,000 nursing home residents. Moving forward, it’s vital to our representative democracy that the legislature fulfill its role as a co-equal branch of government and as a check and balance to this executive and future governors and I am sponsoring legislation, which my colleagues and I are putting forward as an amendment on the Floor of the Senate, to do that in a reasonable way.”
Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston:
“While I believe the governor did well at communicating to New Yorkers at the beginning of this public health crisis, the time of his one-man rule must come to an end. He has far exceeded the powers granted to him by the Legislature in early March and his mishandling of the nursing home situation has resulted in thousands of lives lost throughout New York State. I am pleased that my colleagues and I are finally returning to Albany to provide the long-needed checks to the Executive’s authority.”