Siena Poll: 2-Term Incumbent Democrat Holds Huge Leads Over All Potential Challengers

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A new poll released Monday shows New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo holding big leads over two potential Republican challengers and “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon, who declared her run to challenge the Democrat as he seeks a third term in office.

“I love New York, and today I’m announcing my candidacy for governor,” Nixon said via Twitter.

Her campaign fundraising website declares the former “Sex and the City” actor “…hasn’t been bought and paid for by special interests and won’t be accepting any corporate contributions in this campaign. Instead our campaign will be powered by the people.”

Returning home to SoHo with her wife Christine late Monday, Nixon offered nothing but a quick wave to CBS2’s cameras.

The Siena College poll found that registered voters in New York state prefer Cuomo over Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro by 57 percent to 29 percent. They also favor Cuomo over state Sen. John DeFrancisco, of Syracuse, 57 percent to 28 percent, according to the poll.

Democrats overwhelmingly favor Cuomo over Nixon, a potential primary challenger, by 66 percent to 19 percent.

176924303 8 Cynthia Nixon Confirms Run For Office Against Gov. Cuomo

Cynthia Nixon (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Nixon, a 51-year-old gay liberal activist, is a supporter of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat who often clashes with Cuomo on a variety of issues. She’ll run to the governor’s left, complicating Cuomo’s efforts to appeal beyond the Democratic base.

“If he’s thinking seriously about the presidency in 2020, you don’t want bonfires in your backyard,” political consultant Gerry O’Brien said. “You want to be looking nationally, not mend fences at home.”

According to Siena pollster Steven Greenberg, Nixon “is far from a household name in New York, though she is better known than either Molinaro or DeFrancisco.”

Molinaro plans to formally kick off his campaign April 2, several weeks after he began getting the support of local GOP leaders upon telling them he was running. Republicans are expected to select a candidate at their state convention in May.

Nixon has already outlined a few lines of attack, claiming Cuomo has failed to fix mass transit, failed to fund city schools, and failed to stop an Albany arrangement that leaves Republicans in charge of the State Senate. In a press release, the actress tied the governor to “a string of indictments for corruption,” an apparent reference to the conviction of top confidant Joe Percoco last week and the indictments of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

“It’s great that we live in a democracy where anyone can run for office,” a spokesperson for Cuomo’s 2018 campaign said in a statement. “Governor Cuomo has delivered more real progressive wins than any other Democrat in the country, including passing marriage equality, the strongest gun safety law in the nation, a $15 minimum wage, free college tuition, paid family leave, record setting funding for public education, expanding and protecting healthcare for our most vulnerable, and banning fracking. We look forward to building on that record as we continue to fight and deliver for New York families statewide.”

Cuomo’s favorability rating slipped slightly from the previous month, with 52 percent of voters saying they had a favorable view of the governor compared to 40 percent who were unfavorable. A February Siena poll had Cuomo’s favorability rating at 53 percent, down from 62 percent the previous month. His campaign has pointed to his achievements, including gun safety laws, boosting the minimum wage, and passing marriage equality.

The poll of 772 registered voters was conducted March 11-16. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)