FACT CHECK: Did Cuomo Drop In The Polls After He Legalized Same-Sex Marriage?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he went down in the polls after he signed a bill that legalized same-sex marriage and claimed that around 70 percent of people in his state were opposed.

Verdict: False

Cuomo’s approval ratings remained high after he legalized same-sex marriage. Polls showed that a slight majority of New York voters thought that it should be legal.

Fact Check:

Cuomo, who is up for re-election this fall, made the claim when speaking to reporters in New York City. “When I passed marriage equality, I went down in the polls. It’s one of the greatest things I ever did,” he said, according to Gannett reporter Jon Campbell.

Cuomo said that most New Yorkers had opposed same-sex marriage. “And when we started with marriage equality, the majority of the people in this state were against it,” he said. “It wasn’t even close. I bet you it was 70 percent opposition.”

Multiple polls show, however, that Cuomo did not lose popularity after taking an unpopular stance on same-sex marriage. A slight majority of New York voters polled supported a law legalizing same-sex marriage, and Cuomo remained popular after signing the measure into law. (RELATED: A Campaign Ad Says Joe Manchin Opposed Border Wall Funding – Did He?)

New York lawmakers passed a same-sex marriage law on June 24, 2011, and Cuomo signed it the same day. He was about six months into his first year as governor, having assumed office on Jan. 1, 2011.

The Siena College Research Institute found that Cuomo enjoyed favorability ratings of around 70 percent throughout his first year in office. He had a favorable rating of 71 percent in May 2011, 68 percent in June 2011 and 71 percent in July 2011.

Quinnipiac polls also show that Cuomo’s approval rating did not take a big hit following enactment of the law. A poll taken around the time the measure passed in June 2011 found that he had a 64 percent approval rating among New York voters. An August 2011 poll showed that he dropped two points to 62 percent, but the polls had a margin of error of 2.4 points and Quinnipiac considered the poll to show that Cuomo’s popularity remained high.

“We’re running out of ways to measure how much New York State voters like Gov. Andrew Cuomo,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in the August press release. A September 2011 Quinnipiac poll showed a jump to 66 percent after his handling of tropical storms that hit the state.

In polls from the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, about 54 percent of New York voters said that Cuomo was doing a “good” or “excellent” job in May 2011. The next time Marist asked that question in August 2011, after Cuomo legalized same-sex marriage, 56 percent thought so.

Cuomo was also wrong to say that around 70 percent of New Yorkers were against same-sex marriage when he started working towards it. Polls taken before and after Cuomo became governor found that a slight majority of New York voters supported it.

Marist in November 2009 found that 51 percent of New York voters polled supported legalizing same-sex marriage. Quinnipiac also found 51 percent support for same-sex marriage in a June 2009 poll.

Polls leading up to the measure’s passage showed that a slight majority of voters supported it as well.

Siena found 58 percent support among New York voters in April 2011. Quinnipiac found 58 percent support in May 2011 and 54 percent support in the days surrounding the measure’s passage in June 2011Marist also found 51 percent voter support in May 2011.

Support for same-sex marriage was slightly lower for the general New York population rather than registered voters. The May 2011 Marist poll found that 50 percent of adults supported legalizing same-sex marriage, while 53 percent of adults thought that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. (RELATED: Kamala Harris Says The Tite X ‘Gag Rule’ Would Ban Clinics From Mentioning Abortion

Cuomo was one of the first governors to sign a same-sex marriage bill into law, following Maine Gov. John Baldacci and New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch in 2009. Vermont’s state legislature voted to override Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto to legalize same-sex marriage the same year. Same-sex marriage had been legalized in other states, like Iowa and California, after state supreme court decisions.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 that the Constitution requires states to recognize same-sex marriages and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, legalizing it nationwide.

Cuomo did not respond to a request for comment.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter