Andrew Cuomo’s Celebrity Challenger Not Going Over Well With Voters

As suspected, Cynthia Nixon is not shaping up to be much of a challenge for Andrew Cuomo.

As I noted last week, former ‘Sex And The City’ star Cynthia Nixon had entered the race for the Democratic nomination for Governor of New York against Andrew Cuomo who is seeking a third term in office this year. At the time it seemed apparent that Nixon’s bid was a long shot at best, and the latest poll out of New York City seems to confirm that:

A majority of Democratic voters in New York City believe New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo would be better for the city than his primary opponent Cynthia Nixon, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

Sixty-four percent said Cuomo would be better for New York City than Nixon. Only 21% preferred Nixon for the city’s future.

Among New York City voters overall, 58% of responding voters said Cuomo would be better compared to 22% who said Nixon.

In January, she spoke at “the People’s State of the Union” as an alternative event to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. She also served on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s advisory board for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and was honored with a Human Rights Campaign award for activism on marriage equality.

The poll also showed majority support from New York City voters for Cuomo, with 56% approving of his performance and 37% disapproving. Among New York City Democrats, 64% approved of his performance.

This is the first poll taken since Nixon entered the race, although it’s worth noting that a Sienna poll released on the same day Nixon entered the race showed Cuomo beating the actress by an overwhelming margin. While this is only a poll of New York City Democrats, it definitely suggests that any idea that Nixon poses a serious threat to Cuomo can be put to rest at least for the moment. Even though it’s limited in scope, it is notable in no small part because Nixon has spent much of her first week or so on the campaign trail highlighting issues of concern to New York City voters such as the current state of the city’s mass transit system. So far at least, that doesn’t seem to be making much of a dent in the race and neither does Nixon’s celebrity status. It’s also worth noting that four years ago New York City voters made up more than half of all the people who voted in the Democratic primary statewide, so without a strong performance in the city it’s unlikely that Nixon will be anything other than a gadfly candidate. This is especially true given the fact that it seems unlikely that she’s the kind of candidate that would go over well with upstate New York voters in a Democratic primary.

Jazz Shaw, who lives in upstate New York, comments:

There are a couple of caveats to note here. First of all, this isn’t a poll of all of New York State. It was just taken in the five boroughs of New York City. For what it’s worth, Nixon does predictably better in Manhattan and Staten Island than she does in the Bronx. But looking at previous Democratic primaries in New York, upstate doesn’t traditionally vary all that much from the results in the city. And as I noted before, if anything, Cynthia Nixon will struggle even more with the more rural, upstate voters than she does in her television home of Manhattan.

With all that in mind, those are some dismal numbers for the upstart challenger. Among Democrats (the only ones who can vote in our closed primaries) Cuomo is winning 64-21. And this isn’t a name recognition issue where an unknown challenger might do better later in the race once people get to know them. There are not many undecided voters out there.

Looking for better news in the demographic pigeonholes doesn’t work much better for Nixon either. Amazingly, Nixon actually does worse with Democratic women (20%) than she does with men (25%). She does worse with black voters than whites (though she does the best with Hispanics at 26%). She does best with the youngest voters, ages 18-34, ringing up 34% support, but for all voters over the age of 50 she can’t make it out of the teens.

In other words, she’s trying to play in a Democratic Party race where the politics of gender, race and every other societal division are their bread and butter. But she’s not finding a “home” with any of their core constituencies except possibly in the youth vote. And even there Cuomo is still pulling in a majority.

Ordinarily, a badly trailing candidate like Nixon wouldn’t gain much press attention but the fact that she’s campaigning in what is arguably the cradle of American mass media, combined with her celebrity status and the fact that Cuomo is often mentioned as a potential 2020 Presidential nominee for the Democrats, likely means this race will get more attention than it otherwise would. Even with all that, though, it seems unlikely that Nixon is going to be a serious challenge for Cuomo, and that he’ll likely coast to both the Democratic nomination and a third term in November.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. James Pearce says:

    …a Democratic Party race where the politics of gender, race and every other societal division are their bread and butter. But she’s not finding a “home” with any of their core constituencies….

    Almost no one can find a “home” with any of the Democratic Party’s core constituencies these days.

    Or maybe I’m just saying that because I’m a cis-gendered heterosexual white man.


  2. wr says:

    I’ve got to say that one of the lesser appeals of moving from California to New York was the opportunity to vote against Cuomo… but there’s no way I’d cast a ballot for a celebrity actor with no experience in politics or administration. We’ve already seen too many amateurs fail in these jobs — and I’m thinking of Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura — and that’s not even counting the abomination in the White House.

    So at least now I know what it’s going to take to get me to vote for the worst Democratic governor in the country…


  3. Laurence Bachmann says:

    If the last 16 months teaches anything it’s that governance should never be an apprenticeship for celebrities.


  4. grumpy realist says:

    @Laurence Bachmann: I’d have much more respect for Nixon had she decided to run for local dogcatcher or the equivalent first. As it is, we’ve got scads of celebrity idiots who are thinking they can now jump into high political positions without any experience.

    (And we’ve got a huge load of dumb Americans who would in fact vote for them.)


  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    I’ve mentioned elsewhere, that if Cuomo was the Dem nominee for prez, I’d leave that line blank, but I also believe that amateurs running for governor are a joke. If I were a NY Dem, I’d hope for a more significant challenge.


  6. An Interested Party says:

    Almost no one can find a “home” with any of the Democratic Party’s core constituencies these days.

    Are those constituencies made up of phantoms? Ghosts?

    Or maybe I’m just saying that because I’m a cis-gendered heterosexual white man.

    Republicans would welcome you with open arms…after all, cis-gendered heterosexual white men are their favorite people…


  7. James Pearce says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Republicans would welcome you with open arms

    I don’t want to be a Republican.

    I want the Democrats to stop trying to put people in little boxes they can’t get out of.