The Cuomo bubble has burst. How bad will things get?

As Ed noted this morning, Democrats aren’t really going after Gov. Cuomo the way they did Brett Kavanaugh, but even so there’s been so much negative press in the past few weeks, that the Washington Post is reporting his brand is tarnished:

The sudden shift in fortunes for Cuomo, which has potentially clouded what looked to be an easy reelection campaign next year, comes as an abrupt turnabout for those who first encountered the governor during his daily news conferences. He was widely praised for offering the country the sort of strong leadership many saw missing from the White House under President Donald Trump. The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences gave him an Emmy for “his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.” He even welcomed the term “Cuomosexual” used by some of his online fans…

“This is not just an aggressive politician. This is someone who has a narrative, and if you do not publicly agree with that narrative, he will threaten you,” said Monica Klein, a liberal activist who previously worked for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), a fierce rival of the governor. “What that means is dissent is silenced.”

This Cuomo story sounds exactly like the kind of thing the media used to publish daily about President Trump, complete with anonymous reports of Cuomo’s private frustration:

Several people close to the governor described him as privately frustrated — and wanting to punch back against his critics — even as his team tries to tamp down stories about the various crises. A number of lawmakers, advocates and other political strategists in New York spoke on the condition of anonymity Thursday out of fear of Cuomo and because the full scope of the nursing home investigation and the extent of the sexual harassment allegations are unclear.

In the midst of all of this a Marist College poll found Cuomo’s numbers have dropped to pre-pandemic levels:

In July, 72 percent approved of his handling of the pandemic, and that has dropped to 54 percent now, according to a Marist College poll this month. His overall approval rating has dropped to 49 percent, according to the poll. The polling was conducted before Boylan publicly detailed her sexual harassment claims against the governor.

Basically the Cuomo bubble, which was always absurd, has finally burst. Without that rock star status he enjoyed last year, the inevitability argument doesn’t really work. The NY Times reports that, behind the scenes, Democrats are wondering about the future.

Progressive activists and operatives are trading a flurry of texts, calls and tweets, glued to each fresh controversy unfolding around the governor, and speculating about what the political landscape would look like if he ultimately does not seek a fourth term in 2022. He and his team have said that he intends to run.

Those discussions are in their earliest stages, and in some cases are rooted more in hopes than current realities. But they illustrate a growing sense of uncertainty around Mr. Cuomo, marking a striking turnaround from last year, when some Democrats dreamed of putting him on the presidential ticket.

“Everybody who has ever wanted to be governor has started to go, ‘Oh, what do I need to do if this thing opens up?’” Bill Hyers, a veteran Democratic strategist who managed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s successful 2013 campaign, said this week. “There’s a lined-up coalition who want to defeat him. If he takes two more steps backward, then his challenge will be credible.”

His goose isn’t cooked yet, but one more allegation of sexual harassment or any negative outcome of the ongoing FBI investigation into nursing home deaths could be the end.

Still, before Democrats dump Cuomo they would not only have to be satisfied that he is critically wounded by scandal but also that there’s a better option waiting in the wings to replace him. At this point, it’s not clear who that would be. The Times mentions Bill de Blasio, attorney general Letitia James and a couple others but at this moment none of them seem like a solid bet to oust him.

Ironically, Democrats in New York may wind up reelecting Cuomo because his abusive behavior makes so many fellow Democrats afraid to challenge him.