The New York Times basically ended the political career of Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) in recent weeks, publishing a story about academic plagiarism that caused Walsh to drop his 2014 campaign on Thursday.
When it comes to their very own Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), though, another Times blockbuster hasn't really moved the needle -- at least with voters.
A story last month detailed how the Cuomo administration launched and promoted the so-called Moreland Commission to root out corruption in New York politics. But eventually the focus turned to those close to Cuomo, leading to clashes and the eventual shutdown of the commission earlier than had been planned.
The shuttering of the Moreland Commission led to a very tough editorial from the Times editorial board: "Gov. Andrew Cuomo ran for office four years ago promising first and foremost to clean up Albany. Not only has he not done that, but now he is looking as bad as the forces he likes to attack." He has also been hounded by a political press that is unhappy with the answers (or lack thereof) that they're getting, and the situation has even earned the attention of the local U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara.
But you know whose attention the situation hasn't earned? The people.
A new Siena College poll shows Cuomo's standing in the 2014 election is little changed. He leads Republican Rob Astorino 58 percent to 26 percent. That 32-point margin is off just five points from last month.
In addition, his favorable rating, 57 percent, has dropped just four points -- barely outside the margin of error -- with his unfavorable rating rising just one point, to a whopping 36 percent. He is still viewed favorably by 69 percent of Democrats and even 40 percent of Republicans.
The reason: Very few New Yorkers are even tuning in to the Moreland Commission news.
The poll shows a stunning two-thirds of New Yorkers (67 percent) say they aren't even familiar with the Moreland Commission, and only 11 percent of New Yorkers are following the story "very closely." Another 70 percent say they don't have enough information to determine whether the commission was an "overwhelming success," as Cuomo has contended. (The idea that the commission was an "overwhelming success" doesn't really pass the smell test with the reporters who have covered it.)
Cuomo's biggest ally in this situation is the sheer complexity of the Moreland Commission story. While Walsh's plagiarism was cut-and-dry, and neighboring Gov. Chris Christie's (R) bridge scandal was pretty easy to grasp, the Moreland Commission is still quite hard to penetrate -- for voters and journalists alike.
Cuomo is hardly out of the woods -- even in Christie's situation, his decline in the polls was slow at first -- but at least for the 2014 election, he doesn't appear to be paying much of a price and still looks to be a lock for reelection. And, as with Christie, Cuomo's already-good reputation seems to be buoying him in what otherwise could be some very trying times.
That doesn't mean he doesn't have problems, both when it comes to Bharara and a potential future presidential campaign. But for now, the sheer complexity of the Moreland Commission story is Cuomo's best friend.