ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo regained his popularity with voters heading into this re-election year, and his potential opponents would have a lot of ground to make up if they challenge him in November, a Siena College poll today found.
The Democratic governor's poll numbers have slumped in recent months, but Cuomo appears to have regained his footing with voters after the initiatives in his State of the State earlier this month were widely approved by New Yorkers, the Siena poll said.
Cuomo had a 66 percent to 28 percent favorability and had a whopping 50 percentage point lead over potential Republican opponents Donald Trump, the celebrity billionaire, and Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.
"As he enters his re-election year, Cuomo is sitting pretty. His favorability rating is the strongest it's been since February. His job performance rating is the best it's been since March. And more voters are prepared to re-elect him than at any time since last January," said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg in a statement.
Voters, the poll said, were supportive of Cuomo's plans in his State of the State address Jan. 8. He will release his 2014-15 budget plan on Tuesday.
More than 75 percent of voters supported Cuomo's proposal to take away the licenses of young drivers caught texting and to revoke drivers' licenses for three DWI convictions. They also backed his plans for universal pre-kindergarten statewide and a a $2 billion education technology bond act.
Still, 55 percent of voters said they supported a law legalizing medical marijuana for patients suffering from serious illness, while 34 percent supported Cuomo's plan to do administratively.
While Cuomo's poll numbers were on the rise, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has fallen out of favor with New Yorkers.
Christie's favorability rating dropped in New York from 63 percent to 25 percent in November to 49 percent to 39 percent this month, the poll said.
And in potential 2016 presidential matchups, Christie trailed Hillary Clinton by 28 points and Cuomo by 20 points. Christie had led Cuomo in New York last November.
Cuomo's job performance was 54 percent to 46 percent, up from a negative 44 percent to 56 percent in November.
Still, his job performance rating was 43 percent to 57 percent upstate. It was 60 percent to 40 percent in the New York City suburbs.
Astorino, who was elected to a second term in November, was widely unknown statewide. He had just a 14 percent to 10 percent favorability rating, and 76 percent had no opinion.
It was different for the well-known Trump: His favorability was 38 percent positive and 57 percent negative.
Cuomo was leading Trump 70 percent to 22 percent and Astorino 67 percent to 19 percent.
"Cuomo currently crushes both Astorino, who's unknown to three-quarters of voters, and Trump, who is viewed unfavorably by 57 percent of voters," Greenberg said. "Neither Trump nor Astorino garners the support of a majority of Republicans, and both trail among independents by more than 40 points."
The Siena College poll was conducted Jan. 12-16, 2014 to 808 New York State registered voters. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.