Americans wanted Cuomo out – and thought he should face criminal charges

August 11, 2021, 2:30 PM GMT+0

Even before Andrew Cuomo resigned yesterday from his office of Governor of New York, Americans of all political stripes were ready to see him go. Not only did the American public want him out of office (60%) in the latest Economist/YouGov poll — conducted in the days before his Tuesday announcement — but a majority (55%) also thought he should face criminal charges for sexual harassment.

The governor had lost the confidence of his own party. Democrats’ support for Cuomo’s resignation had jumped 19 points since March, and at the final tally more than three times as many Democrats wanted him out (56%) as not (17%). The former governor’s fall from grace among his own partisans is clear: nearly half of Democrats (47%) support bringing criminal charges against him. Just over one in ten (13%) do not.

In part that is because most people believe the former governor sexually harassed women. Two-thirds of Americans (68%) view the women’s charges as likely true, fewer than one in ten (8%) disagree. These results are consistent among Democrats.

Gender matters little on these questions, as the opinions of women and men are nearly the same. Geographic location also has little impact. Geographic location also has little impact. Those who live in the Northeast, Cuomo’s home region, have similar views as those who live in the rest of the country. Nearly three in five Northeasterners (59%) believed it was time for Cuomo to resign, and 56% believe he should face criminal charges.

Cuomo’s fall from favorability

Back in April 2020, during the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuomo was a hero to many. Even one-third of Republicans (32%) thought well of him in April when the pandemic was at its height in New York and he was providing broadcasted briefings about the state’s plans to address it. But beginning earlier this year, as Cuomo faced questions about his reporting of COVID deaths and then the charges of sexual harassment, that popularity faded.

There has been a nearly 50-point decline in Democrats' favorable rating of Cuomo since April 2020 (72% to 23%), and a 33-point drop overall (47% to 14%).

In addition, Americans no longer see Cuomo’s COVID-19 actions in a positive light. Just 29% of US adults now approve of the way he handled COVID-19, while 42% disapprove. Along with the accusations of sexual harassment leveled against the New York Governor, there are allegations that the Cuomo administration deliberately undercounted the COVID-19 deaths that happened in the state’s nursing homes.

What Americans think of future New York Governor Hochul

Cuomo will be succeeded by New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. She will be the first woman to serve as New York’s Governor, and she will complete Cuomo’s term before a new gubernatorial election in 2022. The incoming governor is unknown to most Americans.

Fewer than one in four Americans (23%) can rate her at all, and Northeasterners do not fare much better. Three-quarters of US adults (77%) and 74% of Northeasterners did not have an opinion of her prior to Cuomo’s announcement.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between August 7 - 10, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.8% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty