ALBANY — The race for governor has tightened considerably though Gov. Cuomo still maintains a healthy lead over GOP challenger Marc Molinaro two days before Election Day, a new poll shows.
Cuomo now leads Molinaro 49% to 36% among likely voters, with three minor-party candidates totaling 7%, according to the Siena College poll released Sunday morning. Another 7% remain undecided.
Cuomo’s 13-point lead is down dramatically from the 23-point lead he held in a Siena poll a month ago.
Libertarian candidate Larry Sharpe has 3% of the vote, while Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner of the newly created Save America Movement party each have 2%, the poll found.
Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said the tightening of the race is a result of Republicans “‘coming home’ to support their nominee much stronger than last month.”
Nearly three-fourths of Republicans say they will vote for Molinaro, while 82% of Democrats back Cuomo. Independents favor Molinaro over Cuomo by a 41% to 34% margin. Cuomo led among independents by 10 points a month ago.
Cuomo is still crushing his Republican challenger in New York City, but only leads by three points in the suburbs. He trails Molinaro by 10 points upstate.
Even though Cuomo maintanis a healthy lead, the poll found that for the first time in his nearly 12 years as governor, more New Yorkers view Cuomo unfavorably than favorably.
Cuomo’s 49% unfavorable rating now exceeds by four points his 45% favorable rating. A month ago, 50% viewed Cuomo favorably and 46% unfavorably.
But Molinaro, who has struggled to raise money after Cuomo spent more than $30 million during his Democratic primary and general election, remains largely unknown by nearly half of voters.
“Voters are poised to give Cuomo a third term,” Greenberg said. “The question appears to be, by what margin?”
Greenberg said if New York City voters turn out in bigger numbers than in recent midterms, Cuomo’s numbers can climb. If not, and if Republicans come out big in upstate and suburban areas with hotly-contested House and state Senate races, the results could end up closer to 2014 when Cuomo beat Republican Rob Astorino 54.3% to 40.3%.
In other results, Siena pollsters found that in the race for state attorney general, Democrat Letitia James, the New York City public advocate, leads Republican corporate lawyer Keith Wofford 49% to 37%, virtually unchanged from last month.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and state Controller Thomas DiNapoli, both Democrats, maintain hefty leads over their Republican opponents heading into Election Day, the poll found.
Gillibrand leads Chele Chiavacci Farley 58% to 35%, down from 61% to 29% in October.