(CNN) - Call it a new high for New York's governor.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, 71% of registered voters in New York say they approve of the job the first term Democratic governor is doing in office, with just 16% saying they disapprove. The 71% approval rating is Cuomo's highest in Quinnipiac polling since he was elected in 2010, and the highest since then-Gov. George Pataki hit 81% in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
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The survey, released Wednesday morning, indicates that Cuomo's approval rating stands at 76% among Democrats, 69% among independent voters and even 68% among Republicans.
Cuomo combated a $9 billion budget gap that he inherited by cutting his own salary and those of other top state officials and freezing the wages of state workers. Cuomo, the son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Bill Clinton administration. He made an unsuccessful bid for New York governor in 2002 before becoming the state's attorney general in 2006. Some political pundits say Cuomo make seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
"Gov. Cuomo might not be the most popular governor in the nation, but he's the most popular – Democrat or Republican – in the seven states surveyed by Quinnipiac University," says Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "For example, he's well-ahead of New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie's all-time best 59 – 36 percent. Cuomo tops that score among Republicans in New York State."
While Cuomo's 71% approval rating is a new high in Quinnipiac polling, Cuomo hit 73% in a Sienna College survey released earlier this year.
The Quinnipiac University survey also indicates that 60% of New York State voters give Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a thumbs up, matching her best approval rating in Quinnipiac polling. The survey indicates that the Democratic senator tops any of the largely unknown Republican candidates hoping to challenge her in November by a two-to-one margin.
Gillibrand was named to the office in early 2009 to fill the seat of Sen. Hillary Clinton, who stepped down to become secretary of state. Gillibrand won election in 2010 for the last two years of Clinton's term and is now running for a full six-year term in office.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted between May 22 and May 28, with 1,504 registered voters in New York questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.