A poll, and a lesson in Cuomo’s approach to the politics of good government

Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders. (Governor Andrew Cuomo, via flickr)
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A majority of voters are fine with the Cuomo-endorsed coalition of Republicans and breakaway Democrats that will run the State Senate. 

"As you may be aware, the Democrats control the New York State Assembly," pollsters asked 1,302 New York State voters in early December. "Who do you want to control the New York State Senate, the Democrats, the Republicans, or a coalition in which Democrats and Republicans share power in deciding what bills come up for a vote?"

A plurality, 48 percent, favored the coalition.

The pollsters asked whether "this coalition leadership of the New York State Senate is a good way to create effective government or a power grab by a handful of elected officials?"

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A majority, 53 percent, said the coalition would create effective government, while only 30 percent said it amounted to a power grab.

Cuomo won his highest approval ratings ever, with 74 percent of voters saying he's doing a good job.

You can see the full poll results here.

Much of the media has a starkly different take on the arrangement, countering the spin from its principals that it represents a model in bipartisan governance.

"Blessed are the kingmakers, for they shall have plenty to eat," wrote New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer today, in drawing a comparison between this Senate "coalition" and the last one, which today is universally reviled as the manifestation of one of the darkest chapters in Albany's generally dark recent history.

Not that it matters, for now. As was the case when Cuomo broke his promise on redistricting reform because it became politically convenient to do so, the governor knows that there's a serious concern gap between the media and public on good-government issues and process matters in general. 

Fred LeBrun, whose Albany Times Union column on the topic of the coalition can be found here, reconciles the shortcomings of the arrangement and the poll results as follows: "what the governor well knows, and his high popularity supports, is that the general public doesn't care a whit about backroom machinations in Albany, or who's running the Senate, or which party is in charge. It just wants the Legislature to work, which of course the governor will see to, one way or another."