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New Siena poll measures New Yorkers’ attitude on masks, crime, Cuomo and more

A Siena poll finds a majority of New Yorkers undecided as to whether to lift the school mask mandate.
A Siena poll finds a majority of New Yorkers undecided as to whether to lift the school mask mandate.

A Siena College Research Institute poll out today gauges public sentiment on mask mandates in schools, New York's bail reform laws, and voter perception of former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Siena’s Steve Greenberg says the survey finds a majority of New Yorkers undecided as to whether to lift the school mask mandate.

Governor Kathy Hochul dropped the statewide mask or vaccine mandate for indoor spaces this month, but says she’ll decide about rules for schools after the February break.

"By a strong 58% majority, voters say we should wait until we get the March data before deciding on the mask mandate," Greenberg said. "10% want to see it end right after the February break and another 30% wish it would have ended earlier. There's a clear difference on partisan lines. Democrats support mask mandates staying in place and waiting for the data on the schools. Republicans wish the mask mandate had ended in public places and in schools. But interestingly on the schools, when we asked, when we looked at voters who have children under 18 in their household, those voters are closely divided. 46% of them want to wait for the data. 40% of them say the mask mandate should have ended already, and 13% say it should end this week. So if you're a local school official, a school superintendent, a school board member, you're facing an a really tough dilemma because your constituency, parents of your students are fairly closely divided on this issue."

Greenberg says 60% of New Yorkers are very concerned about crime and nearly one-quarter of survey respondents say they are very concerned they may be a victim of crime.

"We asked voters about the bail reform law that was passed in 2019, and we asked voters 'do you think it should be amended to give judges more discretion to keep dangerous people off the street, or do you think that the law should continue as is, not giving judges more discretion because we could wind up where it was with people of color being denied bail,'" said Greenberg. "By an overwhelming 65 to 27% voters say the bail reform laws should be amended. 66% of Democrats believe that. 61% of independents and 88% of Republicans. Among people of color, much closer. Black voters say the law should be amended by a narrow 44 to 40% margin, and Latinos by a close margin as well, 48 to 41% save the law should be amended."

Leaders in the Democratic-controlled legislature have said it’s too soon to consider changing the bail laws, which some Democrats and Republicans are pressing for.

Greenberg says by a 2 to 1 margin, voters continue to view former Governor Andrew Cuomo in a negative light.

"Six months out of office and New Yorkers see no reason for Governor Cuomo to come back, former Governor Cuomo to come back," said Greenberg. "When we asked voters 'did Andrew Cuomo make the right decision or the wrong decision to resign six months ago, back in August,' by an overwhelming 80-13% margin, New Yorkers say Governor Cuomo made the right decision to resign including 79% of Democrats, 76% of independents and 86% of Republicans."

Continuing to deny the sexual harassment allegations that led to his downfall, Cuomo has claimed vindication after several district attorneys declined to charge him criminally.

Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi responded to a request for comment on the poll’s findings concerning the former governor by email, stating “The AG’s report did exactly what it was intended to do — create an avalanche of false and defamatory headlines without due process or the facts to damage a Governor who delivered marriage equality, a $15 minimum wage, the nation’s strongest gun safety laws and led the country through COVID. Despite all of that, a majority of New Yorkers still don’t blindly accept the AG’s empty politically motivated rhetoric and we’re not going to rest until everyone understands the facts and the full extent of the prosecutorial misconduct that played out here.”

The poll finds Governor Hochul the clear favorite in the Democratic primary ahead of the June vote. The party nominated Hochul for a full term last week, but Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams plan to petition their way onto the ballot.

Greenberg said "Among registered Democrats Hochul has the support of 46% in her race to get the the Democratic nomination for Governor. New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams is in second place with 17% and Representative Tom Suozzi from Long Island third place with 9%. Still, more than a quarter of registered Democrats at this point, four months before the primary, are still undecided on who they will support."

Siena Survey Crosstabs

The Siena College Poll was conducted February 14-17, 2022 among 803 New York State registered voters with 503 voters contacted through a dual frame (landline and cell phone) mode and 300 responses drawn from a proprietary online panel (Lucid) of New Yorkers. Telephone calls were conducted in English and respondent sampling was initiated by asking for the youngest person in the household. Telephone sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample of landline (ASDE) and cell phone (Dynata) telephone numbers within New York State weighted to
reflect known population patterns. Data from both collection modes (phone and web) was merged and statistically adjusted by age, party by region, race/ethnicity, education, and gender to ensure
representativeness. It has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points including the design effects resulting from weighting.

There were 396 Democrats, with a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percentage points including the design effect resulting from weighting.

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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