With 35 days left before the general election, Gov. Cuomo and his fellow Democrats have a lot to be happy about — along with a few clouds on the horizon. That, in turn, creates an opportunity for New Yorkers to make a final push for candidates of all parties to focus on the key issues that will matter after the votes are counted on Nov. 6.
But this week’s opinion poll by Siena College Research Institute shows that victory isn’t assured.
The top-line number is positive for Cuomo: 50% of likely voters say they would choose him if the election were today, compared with 28% for Molinaro. But Cuomo’s 50% favorable rating only slightly exceeds a disapproval rating of 46%. And the 44% of New Yorkers who say our state is headed in the wrong direction slightly exceeds the 42% who believe we’re on the right track.
On the key question of who would be best at combating corruption in state government, voters prefer Molinaro over Cuomo, 41% to 36%.
Cuomo is going to spend millions in ads to try to keep voter grumpiness from exploding into a backlash against the eight years of his administration.
The closely watched contest for attorney general is a similar mixed bag for Democrat Letitia James. She leads her Republican rival, Keith Wofford, by 50% to 36%, with 14% undecided. But that lead should be bigger under the circumstances: James has been in public life for decades, while Wofford is making his first run for office.
Cuomo and James — and every other Democrat on the ticket — are likely to stick to the simplest formula: bashing all Republicans for being in the same party as President Trump, who is enormously unpopular here. An overwhelming 59% of New Yorkers have an unfavorable opinion of the President, compared to only 37% who see him favorably.
So we can expect the Dems to make every speech and commercial about fighting against Trump. But it would be a shame to let them get away with it.
Voters should take advantage of these final weeks to extract specific promises from Cuomo, James and other Democrats about what they will do if (re)elected.
Cuomo has yet to lay out a serious plan for preventing a repeat of the corruption scandals that led to this year’s convictions of Joe Percoco, Alain Kaloyeros and other top aides. He often defaults to a call for ethics legislation, which has nothing to do with how his administration has mismanaged the state’s procurement process.
Nor have we seen a serious plan for how to boost the sagging upstate economy. Throwing billions at the problem hasn’t worked.
And don’t even get me started on the disastrous condition of the subways.
When Cuomo’s or Molinaro’s canvassers come knocking, give them an earful about the need to hear specific plans to fix the economy, the corruption and the trains.
The attorney general hopefuls need to be pressed, too. James and her opponent both need to commit to a wide range of criminal justice reforms. These include ending cash bail, requiring prosecutors to turn over evidence quicker, and enforcing speedy-trial rules to end the barbaric practice of keeping defendants waiting months on end to resolve their cases.
Bashing Trump is easy. Getting elected leaders to fix problems is much harder — but it’s up to all of us to get the job done.