AlBANY — Nearly 60 percent of New York voters say they don't want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to seek a fourth term as the state's chief executive, a Siena College poll found Monday.
The finding comes just a week after Cuomo, a Democrat, said he expects to run for re-election in 2022.
Siena reported that a survey of 812 voters found that 58 percent oppose the idea of Cuomo running for re-election. After raising some $40 million in his campaign treasury, Cuomo captured a third four-year term last November, handily topping GOP rival Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive and former state assemblyman.
Only 37 percent welcomed the idea of another Cuomo gubernatorial candidacy, though the same poll pegged Cuomo's favorability rating at 52 percent, the highest mark the 61-year-old career politician has hit since last April.
Cuomo, who has also had one term as state attorney general, could be facing "the fatigue factor," with more voters now looking to "change the dialogue and change the players" at the statehouse, said Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University.
"Voters develop sets of norms and expectations about the length of term in office and those can be very powerful," Reeher said.
The Siena data found Cuomo "remains significantly underwater with upstate voters and deep underwater" with Republican voters, though responses to whether they find Cuomo favorable broke even among independent voters and residents of the New York City suburbs, said Steven Greenberg, spokesman for the poll.
The last New York governor to win four terms in Albany was the late Nelson Rockefeller. He resigned in 1973, one year before being nominated to the vice presidency by then President Gerald Ford.
Cuomo's father, the late Mario Cuomo, served three terms as governor before being denied a fourth term in 1994. He was defeated by a little known state senator, George Pataki, who went on to become a three-term governor, and remains the last Republican to win statewide office in New York.
OUT OF STEP
The same Siena survey suggested that the priorities of many state lawmakers may be out of kilter with the preferences of most voters.
For instance, voters voiced overwhelming approval — 84 percent to 13 percent — for a measure that would end religious exemptions for required vaccination shots, an issue that has surfaced against the backdrop of an ongoing measles outbreak in the downstate region. However, at the statehouse, legislation that would accomplish that may not have sufficient backing to get it to a decisive vote.
One controversial bill that is gaining traction among many Democrats who control both houses would allow undocumented immigrants to qualify for New York driver's licenses.
However, the Siena survey found that voters frown on the measure by a 53 to 41 percent margin. One advocate for the measure, Stephen Choi, director of the New York Immigration Coalition, noted that the fate of the measure could rest with lawmakers representing suburban areas, and polling data shows support there has grown by 13 percent in the past three months.
Choi also noted that opposition among white voters has been steadily dropping.
But one Democrat who has broken ranks with backers of the legislation, Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) said in a statement last Friday that he remains opposed to it, noting: "Extending driver’s licenses to undocumented New Yorkers won’t solve the problems our communities face."
Opposition to the license bill has also been voiced by Sens. Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda), Jim Seward (R-Milford), and Betty Little (R-Queensbury.)
Another proposal facing an uphill road at the statehouse would allow the commercial sale of recreational marijuana.
The Siena poll found New Yorkers support the proposal, 55 to 40 percent, though most Republicans oppose it.
The survey had bad news for one homegrown presidential candidate, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He registered a negative 29-53 percent favorability rating.
Scoring much better with New York voters was another White House hopeful, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The poll found her with a 44-36 percent favorable rating in her home state.
Both Gillibrand and de Blasio are seen as long shot candidates in the crowded field of Democratic primary candidates for the presidency.
Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org