By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY, NY - New York voters are fed up with corruption at the Capitol, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's popularity dropped to its lowest level since he took office, a Siena poll released Monday found.
After a series of scandals involving state lawmakers, Cuomo's favorability rating fell to 58 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable - his worst since he became governor in 2011, the Siena College poll said. Voters were nearly split, 50 percent to 49 percent, on Cuomo's job performance, also a low for him.
"For the fourth-consecutive month and fourth-time ever, more voters think he's doing a poor job as governor than an excellent job," Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement.
This is the final week of the legislative session, and voters said that fixing legislative corruption should be the top priority, trumping a women's rights agenda Cuomo is pushing and the legalization of private casinos.
A series of bribery scandals, as well as the resignation of Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn, for allegedly sexually harassing aides, has dominated the session.
Fifty-two percent of voters said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, should resign because he didn't swiftly investigate complaints from women about Lopez.
A Quinnipiac University poll June 5 also found a majority of voters want Silver, the speaker since 1994, to resign. Cuomo has not called for his resignation.
The Democratic governor's popularity was among the highest in the nation after he was elected in 2010. It has fallen in the third year of his first term - particularly upstate where a gun-control law in January has faced stiff criticism.
By a 52 percent to 41 percent margin, voters told Siena that they were prepared to re-elect Cuomo in 2014. Upstate, 54 percent said they would vote for someone else compared to 40 percent who would back Cuomo, who so far has no Republican challenger.
In April, Siena found that by a 52 percent to 42 percent margin, upstate voters would "prefer someone else" to Cuomo.
"His drop this month is more attributable to Democrats than to Republicans or independents," Greenberg said.
Nonetheless, voters said they supported Cuomo's agenda.
They said by a 60 percent to 24 percent margin that they support making New York's abortion law consistent with the federal Roe v. Wade decision, the most controversial part of Cuomo's 10-point women's agenda.
Cuomo also wants lawmakers to approve creating tax-free zones near colleges, and he has traveled the state to promote it. Yet 64 percent of voters said they did not have enough information on the initiative to have an opinion.
Another proposal would change the state constitution to allow for up to seven privately owned casinos in New York, with the first four to be built upstate. Support for the plan fell to 49 percent to 40 percent, down from 53 percent to 37 percent in May, the poll found.
Opposition to hydrofracking increased slightly: 44 percent to 37 percent, up from 41 percent to 39 percent last month. The seven-point edge in opposition was the largest it has been in a Siena poll, Greenberg said.
"There is a clear partisan divide as it is supported nearly two-to-one by Republicans, opposed two-to-one by Democrats and divides independents virtually evenly," he said.
The poll was conducted June 9-13 to 804 registered voters in New York. It had a margin of error of 3.9 percent.