On Monday, I asked whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in serious political peril -- enough trouble, even to raise questions of whether he can survive the dueling scandals besieging his administration. His polling had taken a serious hit, I'd noted, and the media firestorm over his #MeToo issues was intensifying. We now have three women accusing Cuomo of unwanted sexual advances or harassment (my view on the third accusation proved somewhat controversial, but I think it's correct), and the calls for Cuomo's resignation are piling up. The dam has not broken, but he's taking on water. I still think speculation about him stepping aside are premature. Cuomo is nothing if not mind-bendingly arrogant and shameless. My informed guess is that there's not enough momentum among elected New York Democrats to impeach him, even as they're stripping him of some powers, and that Cuomo will furiously resist any suggestion that he resign if there's any chance in his own mind that he could win a fourth term. His refusal to resign yesterday reinforces that belief.
It wouldn't surprise me if he's privately plotting vengeance against those who've already crossed him. That's who he is. In spite of everything, if there's a viable path forward with voters, I think the governor's compulsion is to power through, run again in 2022, and rain hell upon his enemies after securing another term in a deep blue state. But is there a viable path forward with voters? The public opinion surveys I highlighted earlier in the week showed worrisome erosion in support, from Cuomo's perspective, but they hadn't plunged to crisis levels. This new poll, however, is a bright, flapping red flag:
“Cuomo’s approval rating has tanked among voters in New York, with about 48% disapproving of the governor. While 38% approve of the job he is doing.”https://t.co/j6gWWsqSkY— Fredric U. Dicker (@fud31) March 3, 2021
A Democratic governor sinking ten points underwater in a Democratic state isn't great. The precipitous nature of the decline is pretty breathtaking, given Cuomo's (largely undeserved) sky-high numbers throughout the pandemic. But that collapse may not be politically fatal. Voters have short attention spans, and there's a long time until the fall of 2022, though the Democratic primary is sooner, of course. If Cuomo can ride it out, he could still cling on. What's probably more disturbing to his inner circle is this finding in the same freshly-released survey:
The majority of New Yorkers (64%) believe Cuomo should not serve a fourth term. Democrats are split on the issue, 52% say he should serve while 48% say it is time for someone new. More than a third of voters (36%) say they will re-elect Andrew Cuomo...When asking voters in New York about the governor’s handling of reporting nursing home deaths at the beginning of the pandemic, the majority of people (59%) were somewhat or very dissatisfied with the governor’s response to the matter...When asked if the governor should resign as a result, 45% of voters believe he should., 36% say he shouldn’t and 18% are unsure.
Imagine being among the ten percent who declared themselves "very satisfied" by this performance. A plurality said Cuomo should resign over the nursing homes debacle and cover-up -- but more strikingly by 28-point margin, New York voters believe Cuomo shouldn't be re-elected. Democrats are nearly evenly split on that question. The Marist poll I wrote about last week showed Cuomo upside down on the re-election question by roughly 20 points. Again, November 2022 is a long way off, and it's likely that a sizable chunk of respondents who oppose another Cuomo term in the abstract would still pick him over a Republican challenger (who'd inevitably be outspent and relentlessly demonized). But for a guy who was basking in skin-crawling media adulation and racking up gaudy approval numbers until just recently, it's not good news that sizable majorities of New Yorkers have now seen enough of him. And Cuomo's most important constituency is turning on him, a fact amusingly underscored by the Babylon Bee:
'We Don't Like Cuomo Now,' Says Every Late-Night Host In Perfect Robotic Unison https://t.co/TXte6cdCE4— The Babylon Bee (@TheBabylonBee) March 2, 2021
Media tastemakers and gatekeepers are fleeing the Cuomo cult in which they were complicit, if not active members. What's been interesting is the emphasis many media types have placed on the harassment allegations, versus the nursing home deaths cover-up. If investigations confirm that the governor behaved inappropriately with female subordinates, that's a serious problem for him, especially considering his own previous preening on workplace harassment, sexual misconduct and related issues. But the bombshell scandal is cooking the COVID books, stonewalling investigations, and pressuring people to lie to help cover up the cover-up. Why dive into the #MeToo side of things so aggressively? I suspect it's hard for many on the Left and in the media to fully come to grips with how spectacularly wrong they've been about Cuomo for so long. They're invested in the narrative that he was the ideal anti-Trump foil, a pandemic wizard who demonstrated outstanding, steady leadership. Taking him down on the actual reality of his Coronavirus leadership would amount to something of a self-indictment, and would prove a lot of the 'wrong' sort of people were right about him. The alleged harassment issue is an easier path to traverse, therefore, without requiring heaping servings of cognitive dissonance.
I'll leave you with this reminder that other governors made the grave error on nursing homes that Cuomo did. The difference, it seems, is that they didn't actively try to hide the consequences by manipulating official data, corruption that makes Cuomo's scandal much worse: