Publicity - much of it unfavorable - over a series of controversial e-mails and a cross-state tour have not done much to raise the awareness of Carl Paladino's bid to become governor of New York state.
A Siena (College) Research Institute poll released Monday showed that Paladino is unknown to 76 percent of voters statewide and has an 11-13 percent favorable/unfavorable rating. The Buffalo businessman also was found to be well behind presumed Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo, 64-19 percent. Paladino's two other Republican challengers also would be crushed by Cuomo, the state's attorney general, in a matchup in the November election. SRI said that Cuomo topped Rick Lazio, 61-24 percent and Steve Levy, 58-23 percent.
"All three Republicans have a long way to go in becoming known to New York voters, particularly Republican primary voters. Lazio has the early lead but this is a very fluid race and opinion could shift dramatically - or not - once voters learn more about the candidates," said SRI pollster Steven Greenberg. "When it comes to the general election, voters make Cuomo the early - and prohibitive - favorite against any of the Republicans. While none of the three Republican candidates is currently getting more than 12 percent support among Democrats, Cuomo has the support of at least 28 percent of Republicans, and a better than two-to-one lead among independent voters."
Despite a budget deficit that tops $9 billion, repeated surveys that say New York state government is dysfunctional, voters still believe the situation in Albany can be fixed.
"An overwhelming 83 percent of voters - including at least three-quarters of every demographic group - say 'Albany can be fixed if New Yorkers elect the right people to state office.' Only 13 percent feel that 'Albany cannot be fixed irrespective of who's elected to office.' While voters are very down on the current leadership of New York and strongly feel the state is headed in the wrong direction, there is a very real and very strong sense of optimism that Albany can improve," Greenberg said.
Nearly two-thirds - 63 percent - of voters think Cuomo will help "clean up the mess in Albany," compared to 23 percent who think Cuomo is "part of what's wrong with Albany," SRI said. Only 8 percent of voters believe Cuomo, who has not officially entered the race for governor, is too aggressive, compared to 16 percent who say he's not aggressive enough and 64 percent who say he has the right level of aggressiveness.
The survey of 806 registered voters was conducted April 12-15. Additional details on the SRI poll and other statewide political races can be found here.