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New York News

Siena Poll: NY Voters Skeptical When It Comes To Ethics

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WAMC composite photo by Dave Lucas
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Two weeks after lawmakers left Albany, New Yorkers still have their doubts when it comes to ethics reform in the state legislature.

A new Siena College poll finds a majority of New Yorkers thInk legislative ethics reforms will do little or nothing to reduce state government corruption.   "By a 2 to 1 margin, New Yorkers think that the new ethics legislation passed at the end of session by the legislature and the governor will NOT reduce corruption. 56 percent of New Yorkers say it will not reduce corruption, compared to only 27 percent who think it will."  Siena pollster Steve Greenberg notes that 71 percent of respondents gave Governor Andrew Cuomo a negative rating for his work to reduce corruption, and that Cuomo and the Legislature "did little to win over the hearts and minds of New Yorkers" when it comes to ethics reform.

"We asked voters 'how would you rate, how would you grade the governor, how would you grade the Senate, how would you grade the Assembly on their performance this year, would you give them an A, a B, A C, a D, an F?' And what we find: the governor's got a solid C, a 2.09 GPA. Only 39 percent of voters gave him an A or a B, compared to 25 percent who either failed him or gave him a D. But his grades are better than the Assembly and the Senate. The Assembly and Senate each have a 1.88 GPA or a C-minus for both houses of the legislature."
56 percent of state voters said they have a favorable opinion of Cuomo, with 38 percent having an unfavorable view.  WAMC's political observer Dr. Alan Chartock is not surprised.  "This is the guy, of course, who closed down his own Moreland Act Commission. And it really hurt him very badly. I don't think he ever thought it would, but it has and it's stayed with him as part of his political persona."

When the legislative session ended, lawmakers didn’t pass more sweeping changes, such as tighter campaign finance rules or limits on their own outside income. Good-government advocates had called the session Albany’s “Watergate” moment after the ex-Senate and Assembly leaders were convicted in separate federal corruption trials.  Chartock thinks Cuomo can't be happy about the C grade the voters are giving him.   "He, for his own part, went out and called it 'the most successful session in modern history.' Well, the New York Times promptly editorialized it; they go, 'that's not true.'"

Chartock feels that Cuomo may have lost his political footing: "If, as a result of the McDonnell decision by the Supreme Court, it turns out that both Shelly Silver and Dean Skelos are exonerated or get other trials, people are gonna say even more, 'Oh well, what do you expect? Everybody protects everybody in the system. But when you get a legislature with a terrible grade, a governor with a terrible grade, and people holding their noses, it's not good for respect of the system, and when respect of the system goes down, you got a lotta people who feel they don't have obey the law."

The Siena College Poll was conducted June 22-28, 2016 by telephone calls conducted in English to 803 New York State registered voters. Respondent sampling was initiated by asking for the youngest male in the household.  It has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points including the design effects resulting from weighting. Sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample of landline and cell phone telephone numbers (both from Survey Sampling International) from within New York State weighted to reflect known population patterns. Data was statistically adjusted by age, party, region and gender to ensure representativeness.  The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in NYS. SRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices

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