By Mike Hill
ALBANY— Gov. Andrew Cuomo's ratings among New York voters have slipped, though he still leads the only declared Republican candidate for governor by 35 points, according to a poll released Monday.
The Siena College poll shows the Democrat leading Westchester County executive Rob Astorino, 61 percent to 26 percent. Astorino, who announced his candidacy this month, remains little known eight months before the elections, with 65 percent of voters polled either not knowing who he is or having no opinion.
The percentage of voters who rated Cuomo's job performance as excellent or good dropped two points from the previous month to 46 percent. His favorability rating also was down two points to 58 percent. And the percentage of respondents who said they would vote to re-elect him fell to 49 percent, the lowest number recorded for Cuomo by the poll.
The poll found voters pessimistic about public education and the economic well-being of New Yorkers, with pluralities saying things have gotten worse since Cuomo became governor. At least half of the voters felt things have stayed the same when it comes to state government effectiveness, fairness of the state's tax policy and the economic well-being of themselves and their family.
Despite the numbers, Siena pollster Steven Greenberg noted that 64 percent of respondents said Cuomo was an effective governor. He said voters seem to be in a state of flux as they learn about issues and candidates.
"There's a lot movement, that's not surprising," Greenberg said. "Plus they were coming out of a long, cranky winter."
A year after the SAFE Act gun-control law was enacted, voters support it by a 2-to-1 margin. Voters support Cuomo's proposal for state-funded college for prison inmates by a 53-43 percent margin. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they opposed the state Dream Act, which would open state financial aid to students in the country illegally.
The telephone poll of 813 registered voters conducted March 16-20 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.