Poll: Cuomo Holds Wide Lead Against All Republicans

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A new poll shows that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to soon announce a run for governor, continues his wide lead over all other potential challengers.

The Quinnipiac poll finds Cuomo has a job approval of higher than 70% for the ninth month in a row, says pollster Mickey Carroll. Cuomo has not yet announced a run for governor, but is expected to begin his campaign soon. Carroll says Cuomo’s numbers move from the “stratospheric to the celestial”.

“His job approval is just plain awesome,” said Carroll.

Carroll says Cuomo would trounce each of three potential Republican challengers by double digits.

In one more sign that Cuomo is getting ready to run, there’s been a staffing shake-up at the state Democratic Party. Cuomo ally Charlie King has been named executive director. King worked for Cuomo when he was HUD Secretary, and was also Cuomo’s running mate in his unsuccessful run for governor in the 2002 race.

Carroll says once a real campaign gets underway, the Attorney General will have to step up his public appearances and respond to charges from opponents, and Cuomo’s numbers will inevitably go down. But he says Cuomo is starting so high, he can afford to lose a few percentage points.

The survey also asked likely Republican primary voters about the three announced candidates, and found Rick Lazio ahead at 34 percent, with Buffalo businessman and Carl Paladino and Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy at 11 percent each. The poll was conducted before a Western New York blogger reported that Paladino had forwarded obscene and racist e-mails to friends and acquaintances. Carroll says the biggest winner in the GOP contest so far is "unknown."

"Forty percent say ‘we don’t know who we are going to pick,” said Carroll. “Which is bad news for the Republicans.”

But Carroll says just as Cuomo’s numbers are likely to fall once the campaign gets underway, the Republican nominee is likely to gain ground, and the race will tighten.

Steve Levy’s campaign put the best spin on the numbers, saying that their candidate was the strongest against Cuomo in the key New York City suburbs, compared to Lazio and Paladino. Cuomo has 43 percent of the potential vote in the suburbs to Levy’s 37 percent.

Gov. David Paterson, who dropped out of the race for governor, continues to break new records in negative approval ratings, with 65 percent of New Yorkers now saying they do not approve of the way he is handling his job. The majority still believes Paterson should not resign, though, and 62 percent think he should continue to serve out his term.