Poll slide: 61% of New Yorkers think Cuomo did something illegal or unethical in nursing-home scandal

Most politicians wouldn’t mind a 57% approval rating, but then again, most politicians don’t get there from a 63% high. Andrew Cuomo’s slide in the latest Morning Consult poll shows his first real erosion in standing with voters after the explosive admission of Melissa DeRosa of a cover-up in the COVID-19 nursing home scandal. And the Morning Consult survey is actually the good news for the Love Gov:

The latest polling, conducted Feb. 12-21 among 3,203 registered voters in New York, found 57 percent approve of Cuomo’s job performance, down 6 percentage points since surveys conducted Feb. 2-11, before the New York Post reported that a top Cuomo aide told state lawmakers that the governor’s staff withheld information about the true scope of nursing home deaths out of fear that the numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors in the Trump administration.

The share of New Yorkers who disapprove of Cuomo’s job performance also ticked up by 5 points — to 38 percent — in surveys conducted after the New York Post’s report, an indication that the appearance of a cover-up may be worse than the initial handling for some Empire State voters. By comparison, perceptions of Cuomo went unchanged in the aftermath of state Attorney General Letitia James’ Jan. 28 report that first revealed the undercounting of nursing home deaths.

Each poll has a 2-point margin of error.

Cuomo is still more popular than he was before the pandemic began. But the past 10 days have brought the governor his worst numbers since April, when he and a number of other state chief executives saw surges in popularity as they took active roles in tackling the virus. For Cuomo, the nursing home story may be snowballing into something more as he faces public allegations of political bullying from officials in his own party.

This is the risk a bully runs over the long term. That only works while his victims perceive the bully to be too powerful and invulnerable to oppose. The moment a bully becomes vulnerable, he loses that leverage, and all of his opponents will swoop in to wreak revenge. In this case, Cuomo apparently has spent years creating the kind of opponents who will leap at that chance.

The latest Marist poll looks even worse for Cuomo. Six in ten New Yorkers think Cuomo has either committed a crime or ethical violations in the nursing-home scandal, and his prospects for re-election to a fourth term have cratered:

Sixty percent of New Yorkers, including 61% of registered voters, perceive some wrongdoing by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his handling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. However, most don’t go so far as to say that Cuomo did something illegal. New Yorkers are also far from sold on another term for Cuomo. 36% of registered voters compared with 39% in April 2018 think Cuomo deserves to be reelected.

  • 41% of adults statewide say Cuomo has done something unethical but not illegal in his handling of nursing homes during the pandemic. 19% think he has done something illegal, and 27% think he has done nothing wrong.
  • 49% of New Yorkers approve of Cuomo’s job performance, down from 66% in July. 44% disapprove. Non-enrolled voters divide – 44% to 47%. Of note, 28% of Democrats disapprove of how Cuomo is doing his job compared with 9% in the summer.
  • 20% of residents strongly approve of Cuomo’s job performance, down from 33% in July. 28%, up from 19%, strongly disapprove.

Only a quarter of New York voters think Cuomo did nothing wrong. While his approval rating is still above water, it’s now only 48/45 among registered voters in a deep-blue state, a virtual tie with an MoE of ±3.8%. Only 20% strongly approve of Cuomo, with 31% strongly disapproving. Cuomo only gets a 64/28 approval rating from fellow Democrats, which isn’t exactly a vote of confidence in their three-term state leader.

And by the way, in the same poll, 54% of Democrats think Cuomo did something illegal (10%) or unethical (44%) in the nursing-home scandal. Only 33% of Democrats believe he did nothing wrong at all. That makes their 64/28 approval rating look even softer than it already does. Cuomo appears to be in serious political trouble, if not in legal hot water, and these numbers could fuel a serious impeachment efforts if his bullying targets have decided that there won’t be a better time to put themselves out of Cuomo’s misery.

For this, however, they will owe a large debt to Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, who has been blowing the whistle on this scandal for months when most media outlets preferred to ignore it. Her in-laws died as a result of Cuomo’s orders, and Dean reminds everyone in a Newsweek column of why her crusade was as necessary as it was lonely for far too long:

New York State lost more seniors to COVID than America lost to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina combined and doubled. But while we were grieving, heartbroken and coming to grips with the fact that our loved ones died alone, the mainstream media all but crowned Cuomo the go-to pandemic politician.

It was bad enough seeing him on all the national news channels being asked about his love life instead of his lethal policy. But the day my anger and grief turned to rage was when I saw the governor and his anchorman brother Chris Cuomo laughing and joking around on CNN primetime about giant cotton swabs and arguing about who their mother’s favorite son was.

As body bags piled up in storage trucks outside of long-term care facilities and morgues, Cuomo did the rounds on the other friendly news networks, never being asked the nursing home questions that we so desperately wanted answers to.

Be sure to read it all. It might have taken too long to get past the media’s blocking and tackling on Cuomo’s behalf, but it looks like the momentum has finally shifted.