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New Siena Poll Shows Support For Amazon HQ In Queens

New York City Skyline & Amazon logo
Composite photo Dave Lucas / Facebook / Public Domain

A new Siena Poll finds a majority of New Yorkers support the state's deal with internet giant Amazon, which is facing opposition in the state Senate.

The survey says New Yorkers, by 56 to 36 percent, approve of the recently announced deal between Amazon and New York, which grants up to $3 billion in state and city incentives to the online retailer in return for  locating its corporate offices in Queens, where it is projected to generate 25,000 jobs. Siena pollster Don Levy:    "Even when we looked in New York City itself, and remember that's all of New York City, not just the Queens area, there we found that even in New York City, a majority 58 percent approved the deal. Who is a little bit more tepid on the deal? Republicans are less than a majority and folks who self-identify as liberals are a break-even on whether they approve or disapprove the Amazon deal."

40th District New York Senator Pete Harckham thinks Amazon and the promise of high-paying jobs could stimulate the regional downstate economy.  "There'll be housing and employment opportunities all over the tri-state area. You know you can understand some of the concerns of the people who live in the neighborhood about the price of housing going through the roof, and the price of rents for small businesses, and we need to be cognizant of that."

Jumaane Williams campaigns in Albany 9/11/18.
Credit Karen DeWitt

New York City Council member Jumaane Williams is one of many candidates running for public advocate in a special election in two weeks to replace now state Attorney General  Tish James. Williams says the deal is flawed and those high-paying jobs will likely go to non-city residents. He argues the Siena poll stops short.   “It doesn’t ask questions about ‘is it worth $3 billion dollar tax breaks, is it worth the loss of affordable housing that was supposed to be sited there.’ Is it worth a helipad for Jeff Bezos? Is it worth the loss of land use authority to make sure we’re getting something back.  I have a bill now with my colleagues , co-prime, hoping that a mayor would never be able to sign a non-disclosure agreement again.  I think the deal is terrible. It needs to be scrapped and we should start discussions from a fresh place.”

Gov. Cuomo has been pressuring state Senator Michael Gianaris over the deal, going as far as telling WAMC he wouldn’t want to be a Democrat running for reelection if Amazon pulls out.

Again, Levy:   "Overall though, what we're seeing, is that New Yorkers as a whole say 'Hey, wait a second, we approve the deal. We'd like to see Amazon be located right here in New York and especially right there in Queens."

Siena asked New Yorkers if they agree with Governor Cuomo on the 2020 Census when he said ‘let’s go out there and count every New Yorker so we get what we deserve in the state of New York.’  "60 percent say it's very important, 25 percent somewhat important, so 85 percent say 'absolutely, it's important.'"

Breaking it down along party lines, Levy notes large majorities of Republicans and independents support asking about citizenship in the Census while Democrats do not.

The poll also found a majority of voters support "Medical Aid in Dying" legislation that would allow physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to a terminally ill patient who had the mental capacity to make a decision to die.   "58 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of Republicans support that potential legislation. About a third of New Yorkers are opposed." Levy says 52 percent of African-Americans oppose the legislation.

Brandi Alexander is the National Director of Constituency for Compassion & Choices, which supports the bill.   "It's not surprising that support is not as strong among the African-American community because we tend to avoid discussing end-of-life care in general. However, in places where we've had the opportunity to engage with different communities, the issue garners majority support."

With New York expected to soon allow sports betting at the four upstate commercial casinos, the survey asked for opinions on broadening the sports betting law to allow for online betting. Again, Levy.   "44 percent support, 44 percent oppose. This is one of those questions where we seldom see this, where party doesn't seem to matter." Broken down by gender men are in favor, women are opposed.
The poll was conducted February 4 through 7, 2019 by telephone calls conducted in English to 778 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 +/- 4.3 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 ASDE Survey Sampler) from within New York State. Data was statistically adjusted by age, party by region, and gender to ensure representativeness.

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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