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New Siena College poll measures support for Gov. Hochul, various state budget initiatives

A new Siena College Research Institute poll shows choppy waters ahead for New York Governor Kathy Hochul as she seeks a full term.

Siena’s Steve Greenberg says the poll finds New Yorkers overwhelmingly approve of changes to the state’s bail reform laws included in the state budget passed earlier this month.

"By a 67-14% margin voters support recent actions by the governor and legislature to amend the 2019 bail law," said Greenberg. "The changes the governor and legislature made to the bail law, including giving judges more discretion on setting bail in certain instances, enjoy strong support from voters across the board, with at least 58% of voters of every party, region and race supporting the changes. But only 32% of voters say that the changes to the bail law will actually reduce crime. 38% say it probably won't make much of a difference and 16% say it will increase crime."

With nine weeks to go before the Democratic primary against Congressman Tom Suozzi and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Greenberg says Governor Hochul's favorability rating among voters hasn't changed.

"Governor Kathy Hochul right now has a 44-34% favorability rating, virtually unchanged from last month when it was 45 to 35%," said Greenberg. "However, her job performance rating plunged to the worst it has been since she has been in office. Right now only 36% of New York voters give her a positive job performance rating. 57% give her a negative job performance rating. That's 21 points under water. It was under water by 11 points last month and just two points under water at the start of the year. When it comes to specific job performance ratings, it gets even worse for Hochul. On two top of mind concerns for voters, crime and economic issues, voters give Hochul lower grades. On fighting crime only 24% of voters give her a positive rating, compared to 69% who give her a negative rating."

The poll finds most New Yorkers disagree with contributing $600 million to build a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Erie County.

"Only 24% of voters approve of that expenditure. 63%, nearly two-thirds, disapprove, even among upstate voters, disapproval is very strong," Greenberg said.

Hochul discussed her first few months in office in a WAMC interview last week:

“When I'm all finished, how many years to come, that people will look back and say there's no question that a woman can handle the most complicated, fascinating place in this country, but known for its rough and tumble politics,” she said. “And not just my survival but my ability to thrive in this environment, really shows that women are tough enough to do it. But Alan, we govern differently, we govern with the toughness. But it's not about denigrating others or having winners and losers. It's about lifting others up and forging forth a coalition of leaders and people that are with me, and I've lifted up other elected officials and shared success with them.”

Three-quarters of New Yorkers support the suspension of the 16 cents a gallon in state gasoline taxes through December. They back legalizing the sale of to-go drinks by bars and restaurants with takeout food orders, 50-38%. And they support the $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act being on the ballot this November.

Greenberg says voters also weighed in on what they considered the most important issue in November’s election.

"Crime: the top issue. And economic issues also top of mind for voters right now," said Greenberg. "24% of New Yorkers said crime is the single most important issue when they decide who they will support for governor. Inflation 4%. Jobs 2%. The economy generally 7%, but taken altogether, another quarter of the electorate identify economic issues as the most important issues. Another piece of bad news for Governor Hochul. Right now, only 36% of New Yorkers think the state is on the right track. 52%, a clear majority of New Yorkers, think the state is headed in the wrong direction. That is the worst right track number for New York state since December 2010, the last month of Governor David Paterson's administration."

Asked about expectations for their household finances when the pandemic ceases to be a threat, Greenberg says a small plurality, 42%, expect to be in a similar financial position as before the pandemic; 36% say the pandemic has seriously hurt their financial position; 19% think they’ll emerge from the pandemic financially stronger.

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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