The worst part of Nate Cohn’s analysis? He’s probably right. Looks like the Ralph Northam/Justin Fairfax strategy could pay off for the Luv Gov:
But for Mr. Cuomo, the worst poll numbers of his time as governor may still be enough to win re-election. His ratings are worse than they were in early 2014 or 2018, when he went on to win easily, but not by so much that it would make him an obvious underdog in pursuit of a fourth term. …
That Mr. Cuomo could still win is not an indication of any great political resilience. Nor does it imply he is an overwhelming favorite, even without considering whether his standing may diminish further with new revelations.
Much will depend on the conclusions of several investigations that are underway, including one by the F.B.I. on whether his administration provided false data on deaths from Covid-19 in nursing homes, and another by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, into the sexual harassment allegations. Findings by Ms. James that lead to an embarrassing impeachment trial could prompt more voters to shun him.
Yet so far, Mr. Cuomo maintains enough support to have a good chance to prevail. If he does in the final account, he will have overcome allegations of impropriety — and a pummeling from progressive activists on social media — with persistent support from the rank-and-file of the Democratic Party.
That has been the depressing takeaway from polling in New York, despite four-count-’em-four major political scandals erupting more or less simultaneously. Andrew Cuomo faces investigations into …
- his COVID-19 nursing home order and its subsequent cover-up
- redirecting state resources to provide care to family and friends
- nine women alleging sexual harassment (assault in at least one case)
- using state-paid personnel to work on his $4 million book
Actually, it should be five scandals:
- Cuomo’s longtime fixer pressuring county officials for “loyalty checks”
At least two of these five could put Cuomo in danger of criminal prosecution. All five are legitimate grounds for impeachment and removal. The legislature has begun an omnibus impeachment review, but there are legit questions as to whether that’s a strategy to run out the clock, too. By tackling all of these issues at once, it practically guarantees that the committee won’t produce any finding for months, by which time the next election cycle will be at hand.
If the DoJ or the state AG doesn’t file criminal charges, then Cuomo will probably be clear to run again. Will he, though? The scandals might be fading a bit from the headlines now, but a new campaign will revive them all over again, even in favorable media outlets and especially in a contested primary. These outlets might let Cuomo pull a Northam/Fairfax and finish up a term, but if a significant progressive challenges him for the Democratic nomination in 2022, that will end tout suite. Republicans will savage Democrats for not holding Cuomo accountable too, which might not be enough to win the gubernatorial race but might help the GOP control the state legislature after the next election.
At some point, New York Democrats might pray that either Merrick Garland or Letitia James rescues them from themselves. New Yorkers in general might pray for that too.