Siena Poll: 2011 Legislative Session Moves New York on Right Track

September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 14, 2011 at 12:24 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Siena Poll: 2011 Legislative Session Moves New York on Right Track

September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 14, 2011 at 12:24 PM EDT

Loudonville, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Half of New York voters say that the recently completed 2011 legislative session has moved the state forward on the right track, compared to only nine percent who say the session moved New York in the wrong direction.

Similarly, 48 percent say this year’s session shows that state government has become less dysfunctional, compared to 18 percent who say it has become more dysfunctional, according to a new Siena College Research Institute poll of registered voters released Thursday.

Voters are nearly evenly divided on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s recommendation to allow hydrofracking in a large portion of the Marcellus Shale, even though a majority is more inclined to trust the arguments of opponents of hydrofracking rather than the arguments of supporters.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s favorability and job performance ratings inched higher this month, as voters give the Governor a better grade than they give either house of the Legislature for their effectiveness in the legislative session.

While still negative, the favorability ratings for the Senate and Assembly rose significantly in the last month. More than four in five voters call Cuomo 2016 presidential speculation premature, with only 14 percent calling the speculation deserved. If President Obama decides to change running mates in his re-election run next year, 39 percent would support Obama choosing Cuomo, compared to 51 percent who oppose that idea.

“Many pundits and newspaper editorials have called the 2011 legislative session one of the most productive in years, and New Yorkers clearly agree,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “Fifty percent of voters – including a majority of Democrats, independents and voters from New York City, and a plurality of voters from upstate and the downstate suburbs – say the session moves the state forward in the right direction. Only nine percent say the session moves the state in the wrong direction, and 36 percent – including a plurality of Republicans – say that this session hasn’t really changed New York’s direction.”

“For years, the word most often heard to describe state government generally and the Legislature specifically has been ‘dysfunctional.’ In voters’ minds, the Governor and Legislature took a step forward this year to change that,” Greenberg said. “Nearly half – including at least 45 percent of Democrats, Republicans and voters from every region – said this year’s session shows that state government has become less dysfunctional, while only 18 percent said it has become more dysfunctional and 28 percent said the level of dysfunction remains unchanged.”

Strong Majorities of Voters See Property Tax Cap & Legislative Disclosure as Moving State Forward

“More than two-thirds of voters – 68 percent – say the new property tax law moves the state forward on the right track, compared to only 15 percent who say it takes the state in the wrong direction. By an even larger 73-5 percent margin, voters say the new ethics disclosure law for legislators moves the state in the right direction,” Greenberg said. “The new law legalizing same sex marriages moves the state on the right track, according to 46 percent of voters, and takes the state in the wrong direction according to 28 percent.”

Voters Divided on DEC’s Hydrofracking Recommendation; Majority Trust Hydrofracking Opponents

“While only a little more than one-third of downstaters have paid a great deal or some attention to the debate over hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale, nearly two-thirds of upstaters have been following the debate at least somewhat,” Greenberg said. “That regional difference doesn’t, however, carry over to voters’ attitudes on the DEC’s recommendation to allow hydrofracking, or on whether to trust hydrofracking supporters or opponents.”

Statewide, 45 percent of voters favor DEC’s recommendation and 43 percent oppose it. Upstate, 47 percent favor, 45 percent oppose; in the downstate suburbs, 47 percent favor, 40 percent oppose; and, 41 percent in New York City favor while 42 percent oppose. By a 54-33 percent margin, voters statewide say they are more inclined to trust hydrofracking opponents rather than supporters, a view held by 53 percent in New York City, 54 percent in the downstate suburbs and 55 percent upstate.

“Although significantly more voters are currently inclined to trust the arguments of hydrofracking opponents over those of supporters, the debate over whether or not hydrofracking should be permitted in New York has failed so far to produce a clear majority for either position – either statewide or upstate,” Greenberg said.

Cuomo’s Favorability and Job Performance Ratings, Already High, Inch Even Higher

Cuomo has a 71-21 percent favorability rating, up slightly from 68-21 percent last month. His job performance rating also rose slightly to 58-40 percent, up from 55-41 percent last month.

“Voters continue to have an overwhelmingly favorable view of Andrew Cuomo and a largely positive view of the job he is doing as Governor,” Greenberg said. “Only among conservative voters does Cuomo’s favorability drop below 60 percent, and even they give him a 59-35 percent favorability rating. Similarly, conservatives are the only group with a majority giving Cuomo a negative job performance rating.

“When asked to grade Cuomo’s effectiveness in his first legislative session, 62 percent of voters give him an ‘A’ (21 percent) or ‘B’ (41 percent), with 20 percent grading him ‘C,’ seven percent ‘D’ and six percent ‘F.’ Overall, voters give the Governor a grade point average – or GPA – of 2.67 or ‘B-’ for the session,” Greenberg said.

Cuomo for President? Way Too Early. Obama’s Running Mate in 2012? Not So Much

“Presidential speculation is nothing new for New York governors, however, voters think it is way too early to start printing Cuomo 2016 bumper stickers,” Greenberg said. “At least 80 percent of voters from every party and region say that the speculation is premature and he should focus on his responsibilities as governor.

“If the President wants a new VP running mate next year, a majority of New York voters say they hope he doesn’t choose Cuomo for the job. This view is held by a majority or plurality of voters from every party and region, interestingly, however, it is most opposed in New York City and least opposed upstate,” Greenberg said.

Senate & Assembly See Boost in Favorability; Aren’t Graded as High as Cuomo on Session

The State Senate is viewed favorably by 41 percent of voters and unfavorably by 49 percent (up from 30-56 percent last month). The Assembly has a 38-47 favorability rating (up from 26-56 percent). For each house, about a third of voters graded their session effectiveness as an ‘A’ or ‘B,’ about a third gave them a ‘C,’ and about a quarter graded them as ‘D’ or ‘F.’ The Senate’s GPA was 2.05 and the Assembly’s was 2.03, or ‘Cs’ for both.

“After this session, voters see state government as less dysfunctional and both houses of the Legislature enjoy considerably better – albeit still negative – favorability ratings. The Assembly saw a 21-point improvement in its favorability rating and the Senate improved by 18 points,” Greenberg said. “Who knows, another year like this one and voters might actually have a favorable view of one or both houses of the Legislature.”

Obama Favorability Continues to Slowly Edge Lower; Job Performance Rating Falls Sharply

“President Obama’s favorability has slipped to its lowest level since last December, 57-39 percent, down slightly from 59-38 percent last month,” Greenberg said. “Since May, however, his job performance rating fell from a positive 53-47 percent then to a now negative 45-55 percent rating. Still, however, a bare majority of New Yorkers say they are prepared to re-elect Obama next year, little changed from last month.”

Voters Say State Headed on Right Track; Major Turnaround for Downstate Suburban & Upstate Voters

“More voters, 48 percent, now think the New York State is headed on the right track than at any time since February 2007, while 40 percent believe the state is headed in the wrong direction,” Greenberg said. “This is a large turnaround since last month, particularly among downstate suburban and upstate voters.”