Joseph Spector and Jon Campbell http://rochesterdemocrat.ny.newsmemory.com/
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a sizable lead against Republican opponent Robert Astorino, but Cuomo would face a tighter race if a more-liberal candidate were also in the campaign, a Siena College poll said Tuesday.
Cuomo has faced criticism from the state’s Working Families Party, and the labor-backed party hasn’t ruled out running its own candidate because of concerns about Cuomo’s policies.
If a Working Families Party candidate were to run, the unnamed candidate would immediately pick up 24 percent of the vote, matching Astorino, the Westchester County executive, in a three-way matchup, according to Siena.
“While Cuomo continues to hold a dominant position in a head-to-head matchup against Astorino, his lead is cut in half when a WFP candidate perceived to be more liberal or progressive than Cuomo is added to the mix,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement.
In a head-to-head race, Cuomo led Astorino 58 percent to 28 percent, down slightly from last month’s Siena poll.
But with a three-candidate race, Cuomo’s lead would drop to a 15 percentage- point edge over Astorino, with 39 percent for Cuomo and 24 percent each for Astorino and the unnamed Working Families Party candidate.
The poll, however, did not name a specific candidate.
Support for a Working Families candidate was strongest in New York City. Cuomo had the party’s line in 2010, but only after it agreed to a number of reforms Cuomo wanted to enact if he was elected.
The Working Families Party is holding its convention May 31 in Albany. In a statement Tuesday, Executive Director Dan Cantor gave no indication if the party would support Cuomo or run a candidate of its own.
In an email to supporters earlier this month, party leaders said there will be “a serious decision to make” at the May convention. The email ripped Cuomo and the Legislature for not passing an expansive public-financing system for campaigns, as well as providing tax breaks to businesses.
Cuomo’s favorability rating was essentially unchanged at 57 percent positive, and his job performance was the same as the previous month, at 45 percent positive.
He has sparred with unions since he took office in 2011, and he’s viewed as more of a moderate than a liberal, the poll showed. Among all voters, 46 percent described Cuomo as moderate, compared to 35 percent liberal and 11 percent conservative.
“Cuomo’s dilemma with a challenge from the left can be at least partly explained by the fact that Democrats see Cuomo as not liberal enough,” Greenberg said.