After a Quinnipiac University poll
on Wednesday sent shock waves through New York politics by showing Republican upstart Carl Paladino
only 6 points behind Democratic Andrew Cuomo in the governor's race, a new by Siena Research Institute puts Cuomo ahead of Paladino by the whopping margin he enjoyed in a series of match-ups throughout the year.
A front page story in Thursday's New York Times was headlined "Cuomo's Image as Unstoppable Suffers a Blow
." While the Times story correctly predicted that other polls due out this week were expected to show Cuomo with more comfortable leads, it said the Quinnipiac survey still "provided a glimpse of voter attitudes that have driven Mr. Paladino's rise." The Times said Cuomo rolled out an endorsement by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Wednesday to help deflect attention from the poll.
The latest poll, conducted Sept. 16-17 and Sept.19-21, shows Cuomo ahead of Paladino by 57 percent to 24 percent, with Rick Lazio, the candidate defeated by Paladino for the GOP nomination, getting 8 percent on the Conservative Party line. Ten percent were undecided.
The Quinnipiac poll, conducted Sept. 16-20, had Cuomo ahead by only 49 percent to 43 percent.
There were several differences between Quinnipiac's survey and Siena's. Quinnipiac did not include Lazio, who has yet to make clear whether he will stay in the race as the candidate of Conservatives, whose primary he won. Also, Siena polled registered voters while Quinnipiac's sample was limited to likely voters. In general, polling analysts have said that likely voter samples are favoring Republicans this year because of their higher level of enthusiasm, but that may or may not be true in Democratic New York.
A SurveyUSA poll
, conducted Sept. 20-21 for suburban and upstate New York news outlets, came closer to the Quinnipiac result, finding Cuomo ahead among likely voters by 49 percent to 40 percent, with 8 percent preferring another choice and 3 percent undecided. The margin of error is 4.2 points.
Quinnipiac's sample, based on how voters identify themselves, weighted Democrats at 36 percent, Republicans at 22 percent, independents at 31 percent and 11 percent in the category of "other" or "don't know." SurveyUSA had Democrats at 44 percent, Republicans at 35 percent and independents at 20 percent. Siena, whose sample reflects voter registration, had about 49 percent as Democrats with Republicans and independents at about a quarter of the sample each.
In the Siena poll, Cuomo, the state's attorney general and son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, is seen favorably by 60 percent of voters and unfavorably by 31 percent, with 9 percent not sure. Paladino, a brash and blunt Buffalo millionaire, is seen unfavorably by 36 percent and favorably by 32 percent, but 32 percent of voters still don't know enough about him to have an opinion.
When it comes to which candidate voters think will be more effective as governor, Cuomo bests Paladino by large margins on almost every issue: creating jobs, improving education, holding the line on taxes, ethics, and handling the state budget.
"After his lopsided victory in the Republican primary, Paladino is now better known by New York voters -- but not necessarily better liked, other than by Republican and conservative voters. The good news for Paladino is that since last month, he has picked up 10 points against Cuomo. The bad news is that he remains far behind, trailing Cuomo by 33 points, while Lazio siphons off eight percent of the anti-Cuomo vote," said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg.
Both the Quinnipiac poll and New York Times article suggested that, in this year of anti-incumbent fervor, Cuomo might be paying a price for being seen as a New York political insider, particular since the standing assumption all year has been that he was a shoo-in for the governorship.
But Greenberg said, "Voters don't think that Cuomo is too much of an Albany insider to effectively reform state government; however, they also don't believe that Paladino, coming from outside Albany, will be able to whip the state Legislature into shape. Voters are evenly divided on whether or not Paladino is a 'loose cannon' who doesn't have the temperament to be governor. While voters are split on whether Paladino's business experience is what is needed, they strongly agree that Cuomo's experience and knowledge of how government works will benefit New York."
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