Cynthia Nixon has cut into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s early polling lead, but the two-term incumbent still maintains a dominant position in this year’s Democratic primary, according to a new survey from Quinnipiac University.
Mr. Cuomo leads Ms. Nixon 50 percent to 28 percent, the poll shows.
The governor outpaces the actress and education activist among both men and women, in every region of the state and across every age group. Ms. Nixon fares best with younger voters: Among those under 50 years old, she trails Mr. Cuomo by single digits.
While Quinnipiac has not previously surveyed voters across the state about the race, other earlier polls showed Mr. Cuomo leading Ms. Nixon by more than 30 and 40 percentage points. Mr. Cuomo also led Ms. Nixon in a survey of Democratic New York City voters, 64 to 21, in a Quinnipiac poll in late March.
“We cut Cuomo’s lead IN HALF,” Ms. Nixon’s campaign emailed supporters within minutes of the poll’s release on Wednesday.
There were certainly elements of the poll for both sides to cheer.
For Mr. Cuomo, the survey shows that Democratic voters in the state still crave experience in their governors. A full 75 percent of Democrats said they preferred “experience” to only 17 percent who said they preferred a candidate who is “new to politics.” Ms. Nixon has never held elected office.
Mr. Cuomo’s favorability rating among Democratic voters, meanwhile, is a formidable 71 percent, with only 21 seeing him unfavorably. (Ms. Nixon’s favorability rating among Democrats was 35 percent to 15 percent unfavorable.)
“She’s not a present threat at this stage,” Peter A. Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll, said of Ms. Nixon. “But she’s got four months.”
For Ms. Nixon, the survey showed that she has already gained traction among the Democratic base: She leads Mr. Cuomo 49 percent to 31 percent among Democrats who self-identified as “very liberal.” Her challenge: Only one in four Democrats identified themselves as “very liberal” in the poll, versus half who called themselves moderate or conservative.
The poll comes after a frenetic first five weeks of campaigning, as Ms. Nixon has attacked the governor in sharp and personal terms while rolling out some flashy progressive policy proposals, including calling for the legalization of recreational marijuana in New York, and for the state to use 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2050.
Mr. Cuomo has pushed his own progressive record, including raising the minimum wage and creating a paid family leave program, as he has pressed forward on new liberal initiatives, most notably promising to restore voting rights to former felons on parole by simultaneously granting 35,000 pardons.
Both campaigns have begun bulking up for the intensifying contest. Ms. Nixon recently brought aboard L. Joy Williams, the president of the Brooklyn N.A.A.C.P., as a senior strategist; Mr. Cuomo hired Lis Smith, a sharp-tongued Democratic operative, to bolster his communications operation.
Ms. Nixon’s campaign team has also undergone a shake-up: Her initial campaign manager, Nicole Aro, a digital strategist, has departed. She was replaced by Hayley Prim, who, like two of Ms. Nixon’s other top strategists, is a veteran of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 campaign, where she specialized in securing large campaign donations.
Money is another of Mr. Cuomo’s advantages. He entered 2018 with more than $30 million in the bank and he has continued an aggressive fund-raising calendar, including a recent $25,000 per couple dinner at the St. Regis in Midtown Manhattan and a $5,000 private box event at a New York Mets game, hosted by a lobbying firm.
Ms. Nixon has criticized Mr. Cuomo for his reliance on such large donors, pointing out that she has surpassed 10,000 donors to her campaign, 98 percent of whom gave less than $200.
This week, the two sides traded national endorsements as the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, appeared at a bill signing with Mr. Cuomo and endorsed him. A progressive activist group, Democracy for America, which says it has more than 100,000 New York members, endorsed Ms. Nixon on Wednesday.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, Mr. Cuomo holds a comfortable lead over the likely Republican nominee, Marcus J. Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, 57 to 26 percent in the general election.
Even if Ms. Nixon, who won the backing of the Working Families Party, opted to stay in the race as a third-party candidate through November, Mr. Cuomo still leads by a large margin.
In a potential three-way general election, Mr. Cuomo pulls 40 percent support, Mr. Molinaro 23 percent and Ms. Nixon 20 percent.
The live telephone survey of 1,076 New York voters was conducted between April 26 and May 1 and has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points. The poll of 473 Democrats voters has a margin of error of 5.7 percentage points.
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