New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s approval rating dropped 15 percentage points from an all-time high reached last month as Republican voters balked at his pushing through one of the toughest U.S. gun laws, a poll found.
Fifty-nine percent of voters approved of the 55-year-old Democrat’s performance in a survey released today by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Cuomo had a 74 percent approval rating in a poll on Dec. 12, two days before a gunman wielding an assault-style rifle killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
After the massacre, Cuomo began a successful monthlong push to tighten New York’s assault-rifle ban and reduce the number of rounds permissible in a magazine to seven from 10. His support from Republicans dropped to 44 percent in today’s survey from 68 percent. The gun-control package goes too far in restricting owners’ rights, 34 percent of all voters said, including 59 percent of Republicans.
“New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had the political capital to spend when he set out to pass the toughest gun control laws in the nation,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Hamden, Connecticut school’s Polling Institute. “It is possible that the gun law cost him some of that political capital, but a 2-1 job approval rating still makes him the envy of most governors.”
New York was the first state to act on growing calls for tighter limits on firearms after the killings in Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School when lawmakers approved the measure Jan. 15. Democratic lawmakers in at least 10 states along with President Barack Obama are seeking new controls, challenging the firearms lobby’s clout.
The shooter in Newtown, Adam Lanza, used a Bushmaster semiautomatic AR-15-style rifle similar to those made at a Remington Arms Co. plant in Ilion, in upstate New York. Two weeks later, two firefighters were killed in Webster, near Rochester, by a 62-year-old man also wielding a Bushmaster.
Cuomo has said the shooting in Webster lowered opposition among Republicans in the state senate who control the chamber thanks to the help of six breakaway Democrats. Cuomo’s measure outlaws the weapon used by Lanza and also allows the state to seize firearms from mentally ill people deemed to be a threat by a doctor.
Cuomo was asked during a radio interview yesterday about the likelihood of his approval rating dropping as a result of the measure. He said his own surveys of voters as he pushed the gun law showed support would likely suffer as a result.
“I know they’re going to be displeased,” Cuomo said. “I would expect that you’re going to see that in the poll. And that will be that. They will be unhappy.”
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