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Poll Finds Growing Partisanship Among NYers

The White House, Washington D.C.

As political tensions heighten over the inquiry into impeaching President Trump, a new poll finds that New Yorkers believe people in the state are more partisan than ever.

A survey by Siena College finds that two-thirds, 65%, of New Yorkers say there’s a wider political divide than they’ve seen in their lifetimes, and it’s affecting the way they relate to others.

The director of the Siena Research Institute, Don Levy, says one-third say there has been a time over the last year when their opinion of a person in their social network changed, when they found out that person had the opposite view on a political issue.

“Twenty six percent of New Yorkers said ‘you know what, that’s true, I think less of someone today than I used to because I found out that they have opposite political views,'” Levy said.

But in a seeming contradiction, when asked where they place themselves on the political spectrum, most say they are either left of center or right of center. Sixty three precent of Republicans say they are right of center, while 51% of Democrats say they are center left. It’s the other side, they seem to say, that’s holding extreme views, says Levy.

“They say everybody else is more partisan than ever,” said Levy.

Most asked say they think it’s unhealthy for civic engagement to spend too much time watching the news channels, or engaging in political discussions on social media, Facebook and Twitter, yet one-third say they’ve spent more time in the last year following politics.

“It’s like we can’t pull away,” Levy said. “It’s the car wreck theory.”

Just under one quarter, 23%, says they spent less time following political news.

When asked who is most to blame for the intensifying political rhetoric, most Democrats and independents blame President Trump and Fox News, although Republicans says it is progressive Democrats and CNN that’s more at fault. 

Levy predicts the partisan split is only going to get worse as the impeachment inquiry and rhetoric escalates and even those who say they prefer the center will have to take a side.

“Ultimately, everybody is going to have to make a decision,” Levy said. "That will certainly divide us even more than we are today." 

But that will have to be the subject of another poll.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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