Siena Poll: Cuomo Remains Popular, Gets 'Fair' Grade on Improving Economy

May 19, 2011 Updated May 19, 2011 at 2:11 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Siena Poll: Cuomo Remains Popular, Gets 'Fair' Grade on Improving Economy

May 19, 2011 Updated May 19, 2011 at 2:11 PM EDT

Loudonville, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Voters continue to have a very favorable view of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and a majority still believes he’s doing an excellent or good job according to a new Siena Research Institute poll of registered voters released Thursday.

On Cuomo's efforts to improve the state’s economy, 44 percent of voters give him a grade of “A” or “B,” 37 percent give him a “C” and 14 percent either “fail” him or give him a “D,” according to the poll.

A property tax cap, supported by nearly three-quarters of voters, and ethics reform, supported by four of five voters, remain the top two issues that voters want addressed by the end of the legislative session. Strong majorities continue to support extending rent protections and creating an independent redistricting commission, and while support is down slightly from last month, legalizing same sex marriages still has majority support.

Voters’ view on the direction of the state fell, with more voters now thinking the state is headed in the wrong direction, and while more voters still think the country is headed in the wrong direction, the mood of voters about the direction of the country improved since March. Nearly half of voters believe the state’s economy will have improved a year from today, compared to only 14 percent who say it will be worse. Half of voters are prepared to re-elect Senator Kirsten Gillibrand next year and 54 percent are prepared to re-elect President Barack Obama.

“Andrew Cuomo’s honeymoon with voters is five months and counting as 71 percent continue to have a favorable view of Cuomo and only 20 percent view him unfavorably. He has a better than two-to-one favorability rating with Republicans and a nearly two-to-one favorability rating with conservatives. At least two-thirds of voters in every region of the state view him favorably,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “And while his job performance rating fell a little in the last month, it’s still positive by a 52-45 percent margin.

“On addressing New York’s economy, voters give Cuomo a ‘GPA’ of 2.35, with virtually identical numbers giving him As and Bs as give him Cs and Ds. Only six percent say he’s earned a failing grade,” Greenberg said.

Property Tax Cap Continues to be Voters’ Top Session Priority

“By a better than three-to-one majority (71-22 percent), voters overwhelmingly support the Governor’s proposal for a two percent property tax cap. The cap has the support of at least two-thirds of voters from every party and at least three-quarters of voters from upstate and the downstate suburbs,” Greenberg said. “When asked to choose among five issues as the single most important for the Legislature to address before the end of session, 39 percent said the property tax cap, far ahead of every other issue.

“Among the 71 percent of voters who support the cap, nearly two-thirds, including a majority of every group, said that they would be less likely to re-elect their legislator if they knew he or she opposed the cap,” Greenberg said.

“Siena gave voters two arguments that supporters of the cap have made – it will make New York more affordable and more business friendly – and two from opponents – it will damage education and limit local government and school district revenues without the means to control costs. The two arguments in favor of the cap each had about two-thirds of voters saying the argument made them more supportive of a cap. Only about one-third of voters said the arguments against the cap made them less supportive of a cap, while more than four in ten said the arguments neither made them more supportive nor less supportive of a property tax cap,” Greenberg said.

Ethics Disclosure Law Has Overwhelming Support and is Second Largest Session Priority

“By an overwhelming 80-14 percent margin, voters favor requiring full disclosure of legislators’ outside income and clients. It is supported by more than three-quarters of voters from every region and party,” Greenberg said. “Nearly one-quarter of voters (23 percent) said it was their top legislative priority for this session.”

“More than two-thirds of voters that support full ethics disclosure by the Legislature – or 55 percent of all voters – say that legislators who oppose this issue will be less likely to receive their vote in the future,” Greenberg said.

Support for Legalizing Same Sex Marriage Falls Slightly; Still Represents Majority Opinion

“Support for legalizing same sex marriages in New York fell slightly in the last month, however, it is still supported by a 54-42 percent majority of voters. It is overwhelmingly supported by Democrats, liberals and moderates, and younger and Jewish voters. It is strongly opposed by Republicans and conservatives. Catholic and older voters are nearly evenly divided,” Greenberg said.

“Supporters are evenly divided when it comes to how they would react to a legislator who opposes same sex marriages, with 49 percent (26 percent of all voters) saying they’d be less likely to re-elect that legislator and 49 percent saying it would have no effect on their vote. Opponents, however, are much more likely to be influenced by legislators who support same sex marriage, with 60 percent of them (25 percent of all voters) saying they’d be less likely to vote for that legislator and only 38 percent saying it would have no effect,” Greenberg said.

Direction of State Falls; Direction of Country Jumps; Both Now Virtually the Same

Only 40 percent of voters say New York is headed on the right track (down from 46 percent last month), while 49 percent say the state is headed in the wrong direction (up from 41 percent). Slightly more, 43 percent, say the country is headed on the right track (up from 34 percent in March), while 49 percent also say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

“Voters’ view of the direction of the state has been on something of a seesaw over the last few months. In February and April more voters thought the state was headed on the right track, however, in January, March and again this month more voters say the state is headed in the wrong direction,” Greenberg said. “When looking at the direction of the country, voters are significantly more optimistic now than they were two months ago.

“And while voters continue to view the state’s economic condition as abysmal – only nine percent say it’s good, while 90 percent say it is fair or poor – they do have some optimism about the future economy of the state. Nearly half, 47 percent, say the state’s economy will be significantly (five percent) or somewhat (42 percent) improved a year from today, while only 14 percent say it will be significantly or somewhat worse. More than one-third, 36 percent, say it will be about the same” Greenberg said.

Obama Remains Strong with New York Voters

“Just as the changing mood of voters on the direction of the state has not impacted Cuomo’s favorability, the increased optimism about the direction of the nation has not affected Obama’s favorability rating, 62-36 percent, which has been in the low 60s since the start of 2011. He has a favorable rating with every group of voters other than Republicans and conservatives, who overwhelmingly view him unfavorably,” Greenberg said.

“With more than a year until election day, New York voters appear to be uninterested in breaking their blue streak, as 54 percent of voters say they are prepared to re-elect Obama and 39 percent say they would prefer ‘someone else,’ ” Greenberg said.

Gillibrand Viewed Favorably; Voters Inclined to Re-elect Her

“Gillibrand is viewed favorably by 51 percent of voters and unfavorably by 20 percent, down from 57-18 percent in February. Nearly one-third of voters don’t know enough about the junior senator to have an opinion,” Greenberg said. “Currently, 50 percent say they would vote to re-elect her, while 30 percent would prefer ‘someone else.’ A majority of Democrats and plurality of independents would re-elect her, while 50 percent of Republicans prefer ‘someone else.’