Defiant Cuomo stands his ground

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19 briefing in the state Capitol in Albany in December.

To paraphrase a Dire Straits song, some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug. Gov. Andrew Cuomo learned this hard lesson Tuesday when a Marist College poll showed his approval rating dipped with New Yorkers in the wake of recent controversy over his administration’s delayed release and initial undercount of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.

Making matters worse for the governor, the polling also revealed New York residents are not convinced about re-electing Cuomo to a fourth term in 2022.

About 49% of New Yorkers approve of Cuomo’s job performance, down from 66% in July. Roughly 44% disapprove, including 28% of Democrats compared to 9% of disapproving voters in the governor’s party last summer, according to the poll. At the moment, this doesn’t bode well for Cuomo, but a lot can happen between now and 2022.

Significantly, the poll shows figures that reflect Cuomo’s pre-pandemic approval ratings, or before the governor gained global attention and popularity through most of 2020 for his daily COVID-19 briefings, virus responses, appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone and almost daily criticism of President Donald Trump’s poor handling of the health crisis.

Cuomo’s net positive rating is up 22 points in New York City and 9 points in city suburbs. Upstate residents don’t share these views, divided as they are at 48% favorability.

You can do good 99% of the time but it’s the 1% that gets you, the saying goes. Another maxim, one proferred by former Catskill Board of Education President Richard Schloss, went something like this: The good things you do are measured in milligrams. The bad things are measured in megatons.

It would be a terrible failure if all the good Cuomo did in the midst of a pandemic was wiped out by his mishandling of the nursing home controversy. Cuomo must not only right the ship in New York as a whole; now he has to get his own ship onto calmer seas.

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