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Siena Poll: New Yorkers Are Hungry For Ethics Reforms

A new Siena College poll released this morning — the same day of former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's sentencing — finds corruption the most pressing issue among New York residents.

The survey says a whopping 97 percent of voters believe Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature should pass new laws to address corruption in state government BEFORE the session ends in June. Siena poll spokesman Steve Greenberg:    "82 percent of voters say 'it's very important,' and when Siena gave voters a list of six potential end-of-session issues, including education, affordable housing, the heroin epidemic, cancer-screening. We said 'What's the single most important issue that the governor and legislature deal with before the session ends?' Corruption, number one.  The people of the state clearly want the governor and the legislature to address this issue. 93 percent of New Yorkers say corruption in state government in Albany is a serious problem. 65 percent of voters, nearly two-thirds, say corruption among the state legislators from their area is a serious problem, so the voters clearly want this issue addressed."

In addition to Silver, there has been a steady stream of state lawmakers ending up in handcuffs in recent years… "I will be vindicated" and brought to justice.

A majority of the 802 registered voters Siena polled wholeheartedly support stripping pensions from legislators convicted of a crime related to their public jobs.  "They don't care if this law is passed after a former legislator is convicted. They want that person's pension taken away from them. And when we asked voters 'should this apply to only elected officials or should this apply to all state employees,' overwhelmingly more than three-quarters of New Yorkers say this should apply to all state employees who are convicted of crimes related to their public service."

The Siena survey was completed early last week "...prior to news the federal prosecutor is looking at former Cuomo employees and various lobbyists in connection with the Buffalo Billion."

Late last month came word that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has begun probing whether possible conflicts of interests existed in the Buffalo Billion project. Cuomo's former executive deputy secretary, Joseph Percoco, figures in Bharara's probe.  Cuomo reacted: "I would be shocked, if he did anything wrong. But. Let's get the facts."

Before the investigation became public, Siena ranked the governor's favorability rating.   "54 percent of New Yorkers view Cuomo favorably, 41 percent view him unfavorably, up a little bit from February, the last time Siena asked. His job performance is also up a pinch but still underwater. 43 percent of voters think he's doing an excellent or good job as governor. 56 percent, a majority, think he's only doing a fair or poor job as governor."

The Siena Poll was conducted April 24-27. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Voters were also asked about Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer vs. Wendy Long.  View the complete survey in PDF formathere -or- crosstabs (also PDF)  here.

Clinton has a negative 48-50 percent favorability rating, down slightly from 48-48 percent in March, while Donald Trump has a negative 26-70 percent favorability rating, down a little from 29-67 percent in March.  Clinton leads Trump 56-30 percent, little changed from a 57-34 percent lead in March.

Schumer has a 57-32 percent favorability rating, down a little from 60-29 percent in February. Wendy Long has a 13-10 percent favorability rating, with 78 percent not knowing enough about her to have an opinion.  She had a 17-16 percent favorability rating with 67 percent not knowing enough about her in October 2012, shortly beforelosing to Kirsten Gillibrandin that year’s race for United States Senator.  Currently, 52 percent say they are prepared to re-elect Schumer, while 38 percent would prefer ‘someone else,’ largely unchanged from February.  In a head-to-head matchup, Schumer leads Long by 40 points, 64-24 percent.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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