LOUDONVILLE — The majority of New Yorkers, 58 percent, say the state should wait until data is analyzed in early March before deciding whether to lift the mask mandate in schools. Thirty percent say it should have already been lifted, and 10 percent say it should end at the end of this week, when students return from break, according to a poll by the Siena College Research Institute.
As far at the mandate for indoor public places, 45 percent say it should still be in place, 31 percent say it should have ended earlier than Feb. 10, when Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted it for businesses and other public places. Twenty percent say it ended at the fight time.
“Waiting to see data from early March before deciding to lift the school mask mandate – as opposed to lifting that mandate as schools reconvene next week or wishing it had been lifted previously – is how the majority of New Yorkers would like to proceed,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “The majority of virtually every demographic group agrees, though not Republicans and conservatives, who wish the mandate had ended already.”
Forty-six percent of those with children in the household think the state should analyze data at the beginning of March before lifting the mandate while 40 percent think it should have ended already and 13 percent of the respondents with children in school think it should end after the February break.
“While nearly two-thirds of voters without children at home support waiting for March data to decide on the school mask mandate, state and school officials face a ‘lose/lose’ proposition with their constituents most closely affected by this decision – regardless of the decision – since voters with children under 18 in their household are closely divided between waiting for data to decide and masks should have been off already,” Greenberg said.
Fifty-eight percent say the worst of COVID-19 is behind us while 24 percent say the worst is yet to come and 18 percent don’t know.
Sixty percent of New Yorkers think crime is a very serious problem with another 31 percent say it is a somewhat serious problem. Twenty-seven percent say crime is a very serious problem in their community and another 36 percent say it is a somewhat serious problem.
Overall, 57 percent say they are very or somewhat concerned about being a victim of a crime while about half of upstaters, whites and those in the downstate suburbs are concerned they will be a victim. Nearly three quarters, 71 percent, of New York City voters and about two thirds of blacks and Latino voters are concerned with becoming a crime victim, according to the poll.
“New Yorkers say crime is a serious problem across the state. More than half of every demographic group say it is a very serious problem and at least 84 percent of every demographic say it is at least a somewhat serious problem,” Greenberg said.
Sixty-five percent of all voters think 2019 “bail reform” legislation should be amended to give judges more discretion to “keep dangerous criminals off the streets.” Twenty-seven percent say it should not be amended because “it could once again lead to people of color being disproportionately denied bail.”
“Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers – including strong majorities of Republicans, independents and Democrats, upstaters and downstaters – support amending the 2019 bail reform law and giving judges more discretion to keep dangerous criminals off the streets,” Greenberg said. “Voters of color and young voters are more closely divided. Young voters favor amending the law by 12 points, Latinos by seven points and Black voters by four points.”
Hochul, the official Democratic Party pick for governor, is in a comfortable lead with 46 percent of the Democrats saying they will vote for her in the primary later this year. According to the poll, 17 percent would support New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and 9 percent would support U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi with more than 25 percent undecided.
“While Williams has a narrow 39-32 percent lead over Hochul with Black voters and he’s within three points of Hochul with younger voters, Hochul has a large to commanding lead with virtually all other demographic groups, with large double-digit leads in every region,” Greenberg said.
The governor, elevated to the position in August, 2021 to replace Andrew Cuomo, who resigned amongst allegations he sexually abused as many as 11 women in state employ and other alleged ethical transgressions, has a 46 percent favorability rating opposed to 32 percent who view her unfavorably. Twenty-two percent do not have an opinion.
It is sharply along party lines with 63 percent of her fellow Democrats viewing her favorably and 62 percent of Republicans viewing her unfavorably.
Fifty-nine percent of voters do not know enough about Williams to form an opinion and 66 percent feel the same about Suozzi.
On the GOP side of things, Andrew Giuliani has a 28-47 percent favorability rating with all voters and 47 to 28 percent among Republicans. U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin has a favorability rating of 18-20 percent with all voters and 27-16 percent among Republicans and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has a favorability rating of 18-14 percent with all voters and 21-13 percent among Republicans, according to the poll.
Republicans are still battling name recognition. According to the poll, 67 percent do not know Astorino, 62 percent do not know Zeldin and 25 percent do not know Giuliani.
If Hochul wins the Democratic Party primary in June, 47 percent say they will vote for her in the general election while 38 percent say they would vote for someone else.
More voters view the former governor unfavorably, 33-60 percent, the same rating as October, 2021.
A large majority of voters, 58-21 percent, think he did sexually harass multiple women, which is little changed from the 58-21 percent who thought so in September, 2021.
Despite a number of district attorneys across the state refusing to bring formal, criminal charges against Cuomo the majority of New Yorkers, 56-25 percent, do not think he is vindicated.
By a 47-27 percent margin, voters say they believe Attorney General Letitia James, who says Cuomo is a “serial sexual harasser,” more than they believe Cuomo, who says the investigation against him was a “political hit job.”
And, by 80-13 percent margin, voters say Cuomo made the right decision to resign.
“New Yorkers are not ready to forgive and forget when it comes to Cuomo. By two-to-one, they view him unfavorably. By more than two-to-one, voters say both that he has committed sexual harassment against multiple women, and, despite there being no criminal charges, he has not been vindicated,” Greenberg said. “
Nearly 80 percent of New Yorkers think inflation has a very or somewhat serious impact on their personal finances.
“In December, 66 percent said inflation was having at least a somewhat serious negative effect on their personal finances, 29 percent very serious. Now, that’s up to 78 percent saying inflation is having a negative effect on their finances, 39 percent very serious. Like crime, inflation is very much on voters’ minds heading into the midterms.”
Odds & Ends
Forty-five percent think the state is headed in the wrong direction while 41 percent think otherwise.
Fifty-seven percent think the country is going in the wrong direction while 34 percent think it is on the right track.
President Joe Biden’s ratings fell to their lowest levels since taking office. His favorability rating is 48-48 percent, down from 52-42 percent last month, and 65-29 percent in February, 2021. His job performance rating is negative 36-63 percent, down from 39-60 percent last month, and 55-37 percent in February 2021.
Voters have a negative view of former President Donald Trump 35-59 percent
Voters have a favorable opinion of Sen. Chuck Schumer, 47 to 39 percent
Voters view the New York State Assembly favorably by a margin of 40-37 percent.
Voters view the New York State Senate favorably by a margin of 44-39 percent.
Voters view New York City Mayor Eric Adams favorably by 36-20 percent with 44 percent having no opinion.
This Siena College Poll was conducted February 14-17 among 803 New York state registered voters. It has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.
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