For all the blowback New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has received from some national Democrats for supporting the coalition between Republicans and breakaway Democrats that has formed to control the state Senate in Albany, a new Quinnipiac University poll released early Wednesday shows New York voters generally support that coalition, and Cuomo's approval ratings have hit a record high halfway through his first term.
Quinnipiac asked Empire State voters who they wanted to control the state Senate: Democrats, Republicans or "a coalition in which Democrats and Republicans share power in deciding what bills come up for a vote." Thirty-one percent of respondents chose Democrats, 17 percent picked Republicans and 48 percent preferred the coalition. That 48 percent includes two-in-five voters who identify with one of the two parties, in addition to seven-in-ten independents.
Five Democratic state Senators announced last week that they were partnering with Republicans to control the floor of that legislative body, despite the fact that Democrats appear to have won more seats in the November elections (two races remain in recounts). A majority of voters, 53 percent, think this coalition "is a good way to create effective government," while three-in-ten call it "a power grab by a handful of elected officials."
Cuomo has come under fire from the left for allowing -- and perhaps even encouraging -- members of his party to join the GOP. During the campaign, Cuomo even endorsed some moderate Republicans, including state Sen. Steve Saland, who provided one of his party's four votes in favor of same-sex marriage in 2011. Cuomo has claimed that Democrats squandered their chance to hold the majority from 2009-2010, when Democratic control of the chamber was marred by chaos and corruption.
Cuomo’s stance certainly isn’t hurting him in the state. The Quinnipiac poll shows his approval rating at 74 percent, slightly higher than the 70-percent rating he posted in the previous poll, in early September. Only 13 percent of voters disapprove of how he is handling his job as governor, down from 16 percent in September. Cuomo’s approval rating among self-identified Democrats is a sky-high 82 percent, and even more than two-thirds of Republicans, 68 percent, approve of his job performance.
The poll shows Cuomo also scores high marks for his handling of Hurricane Sandy. One-in-four voters say Cuomo's response to the storm has been "excellent," while another 55 percent rate it "good." Just 12 percent said his response was "not so good," and a paltry 4 percent said it was "poor."
The popular Cuomo -- his approval rating has been at 70 percent or higher since the spring -- is up for reelection in 2014, and speculation swirls around him as a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
The poll was conducted Dec. 5-10, beginning the day after the state Senate coalition was announced. Quinnipiac surveyed 1,302 registered voters, for a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.7 percentage points.