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Siena Polls Released This Week Find New Yorkers Divided On Issues Of Race, Politics

Composite Image by Dave Lucas (Jackie Orchard / cdc.gov)

New polls are shining a light on two of the most pressing social issues of our time: COVID and race relations.

55 percent of New Yorkers polled by the Siena Research Institute say they think the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to come. Siena’s Steve Greenberg:

" A majority of between 50 and 61 percent of Democrats, Republicans, independents, upstaters, downstaters, Black, Latino and white voters, all say the worst than the pandemic is still in front of us. “

More Than A Quarter Of New Yorkers Say They Won't Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Seven percent told Siena they had received at least one shot of the vaccine. Albany's Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Alice Green says the Black community has been hard hit by the pandemic.

"We're still dealing with that issue of trust, and I hear it every day. You know I think the people are going to welcome a vaccine, when they tell me 'no,' because there's that long history of racism there in providing medical attention to care, so we're trying to overcome that, you know trying to find ways of getting people to understand how important it is."

69 percent of New Yorkers say they plan to get vaccinated while 27 percent say they do not.

Greenberg says a poll released on the Martin Luther King holiday showed little change in attitudes toward race relations over the past year: 31 percent of New Yorkers think race relations in the state are excellent or good, while 64 percent say they are fair or poor.

"And what's amazing is, despite all the events, all the headlines and protests, and the national conversations that have taken place over the last year about race in America, little has changed, good or bad, regarding New Yorkers' views about race relations and discrimination in the state."

Green says the survey is a letdown because events that transpired over the summer seemed to imply that those views had indeed changed.

"...at one point I think many of us were convinced that things had changed for the better when we saw the reaction to George Floyd's death ..." ~ Alice Green, Center For Law And Justice, Albany.

"And it was disappointing. It was doubly disappointing because it came out on Martin Luther King's Day and so we were reflecting about his concern that we develop this 'beloved community' where people do learn to respect and treat each other equally. And at one point I think many of us were convinced that things had changed for the better when we saw the reaction to George Floyd's death and that of a number of others who were killed. We saw so many white people joining in the Black Lives Matter movement and calling for change."

Again, Siena’s Greenberg:

"Has Black Lives Matter movement had a positive, negative, or no real impact on America? Well a plurality of New Yorkers, 48 percent, say BLM has had a positive impact. 32 percent say it had a negative impact. 13 percent says it had no real impact. Not surprisingly, 63 percent off of African American or Black voters in New York think BLM has had a positive impact. 58 percent of Latinos agree. And by a small plurality white box as well. 43 percent say BLM has had a positive impact on America compared to 39 percent who say it's had a negative impact."

70 percent of those surveyed say minorities – including African Americans, Hispanics and Asians – who live in New York experience racial discrimination.

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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