By Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's popularity rebounded this month after falling to its lowest level in June since he took office in 2011, a poll Monday found. And his improvement was stark upstate-where he has had the most vulnerability.
The Siena College poll showed that Cuomo's favorability rating returned to its highest level since February. He was viewed favorable by 65 percent of voters, compared to 58 percent in June.
Upstate, the Democratic governor's popularity was 55 percent to 41 percent. That's a significant swing from June, when 46 percent of upstate voters viewed him favorably and 48 percent didn't.
"With the Legislature out of town for the summer, Cuomo has reversed his downward polling trend from the first half of this year. His favorability rating is back in the mid-60s and his re-elect number is back in the mid 50s," Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement. "More than two-thirds of voters, including majorities of Republicans and conservatives, say that Cuomo has been an effective governor in his first three years."
Since the legislative session ended in June, Cuomo has made the upstate economy his top focus, visiting the area more than 75 times this year-more than he did in all of 2012. The unemployment rate has dropped in recent months, but the region has still be stung by major job losses.
The poll showed Cuomo's focus has had an impact. In June, by a 54 percent to 40 percent margin, upstate voters said they would vote for someone else over Cuomo when he seeks re-election next year. Monday's poll showed voters were evenly divided: 46 percent to 46 percent.
Maybe voters are more favorable toward Cuomo because of what they are seeing in New York City. More than two-thirds of voters in New York think the national attention on the comeback bids by Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner is embarrassing. Weiner, the troubled former congressman, is running for mayor; Spitzer, the disgraced former governor, is running for city comptroller.
In another question, voters said by a nearly two-to-one margin that they supported all 10 points of a Women's Equality Agenda supported by Cuomo, including a controversial piece to strengthen abortion rights. The proposal was defeated in the Senate in June.
The Siena poll was conducted August 4-7 to 814 New York registered voters. It had a margin of error of 3.4 percent.