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Passing New Laws to Address Corruption in State Government is Voters’ Top End of Session Priority

Passing New Laws to Address Corruption in State Government is Voters’ Top End of Session Priority

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Passing New Laws to Address Corruption in State Government is Voters’ Top End of Session Priority
Voters: Overwhelmingly Support Stripping Pensions of Legislators &
All State Employees Convicted of Crimes Related to Their Public Jobs; Divided on Limiting Legislators’ Outside Income to 15% of Salary; Strongly Pessimistic that Anti-Corruption Legislation Passes by June
Schumer: Huge Lead Over Long; Clinton Maintains Big Lead Over Trump


Loudonville, NY.  Ninety-seven percent of New Yorkers say it is important for the Governor and Legislature to pass new laws to address corruption in state government before session ends in June, including 82 percent saying it’s very important, and a plurality of 30 percent who say it’s the single most important issue that must be acted on before session ends, according to a new Siena College poll of New York State registered voters released today. 

More than three-quarters of voters support stripping pensions from state legislators convicted of crimes related to their public service regardless of when the legislator was first elected and an identical number, 77 percent, say such a pension forfeiture law should apply to all state employees, not just elected officials. Voters are closely divided on the issue of whether to limit legislators’ outside income to 15 percent of their salary, as proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and a majority continues to support a full time legislature that bans outside income, while a majority also opposes increasing legislators’ pay even if they are full time legislators. Yet, by a two-to-one margin, voters are pessimistic that significant anti-corruption legislation will be enacted this session.

“As the former Assembly Speaker and Senate Majority Leader are about to be sentenced after their corruption convictions, corruption is very much the issue for New Yorkers right now. By a 93-4 percent margin, voters say corruption in Albany is a serious problem. Nearly two-thirds say corruption among state legislators from their area is a serious problem,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.  “A near unanimous 97 percent say it is important for the Governor and Legislature to pass laws addressing corruption before session ends.

“Corruption even beats out education, affordable housing and combatting the heroin epidemic as the single most important issue,” Greenberg said. “The problem is clear but voters don’t agree on all solutions and they are decidedly pessimistic that Cuomo and the Legislature will address the corruption issue before the end of session.”

“Stripping pensions from legislators – as well as any state employee – convicted of a crime related to their public jobs is an issue that has the overwhelming support of New Yorkers.  More than two-thirds of Democrats and voters from New York City, as well as at least 81 percent of Republicans, independents and voters from the downstate suburbs and upstate support a law to strip convicted legislators of their pension, even if they were elected prior to that law being passed,” Greenberg said. “And at least 72 percent of voters from every region and party support applying the pension forfeiture law to all state employees.

“While there’s overwhelming support for the Governor’s proposal on pension forfeiture, there’s mixed support for his proposal to limit legislators’ outside income to 15 percent of their salary,” Greenberg said. “That proposal is supported by 45 percent of New Yorkers and opposed by 48 percent. Interestingly, the close division is true among Democrats, Republicans, independents and voters from every region of the state.

“By a 56-37 percent margin – down slightly from 60-34 percent in February – voters support making the Legislature full time and banning outside income.  Democrats and independents strongly support that, while Republicans are more divided between that idea and keeping the Legislature part time,” Greenberg said. “If the Legislature was full time with outside employment banned, voters would still oppose, 56-41 percent, legislators getting a raise. Republicans and independents strongly oppose a raise, while Democrats are closely divided.”

Popular Schumer Has Huge Lead Over Unknown Long
Chuck Schumer has a 57-32 percent favorability rating, down a little from 60-29 percent in February. Wendy Long has a 13-10 percent favorability rating, with 78 percent not knowing enough about her to have an opinion.  She had a 17-16 percent favorability rating with 67 percent not knowing enough about her in October 2012, shortly before losing to Kirsten Gillibrand in that year’s race for United States Senator.  Currently, 52 percent say they are prepared to re-elect Schumer, while 38 percent would prefer ‘someone else,’ largely unchanged from February.  In a head-to-head matchup, Schumer leads Long by 40 points, 64-24 percent.

“After losing to Gillibrand 72-26 percent in 2012, Long is taking on another steeply uphill battle. With Schumer poised to become the Senate Democratic leader should he win re-election to a fourth term, he faces a candidate with experience in a statewide race but with little name recognition and no proven ability to raise money to mount a credible campaign,” Greenberg said. 

“While Long leads Schumer with Republicans by 20 points, his lead among Democrats is 79 points and he has a 23-point lead with independents. Schumer, who prides himself on annually visiting all 62 New York counties, leads by 65 points in New York City, 27 point in the downstate suburbs and 23 points upstate,” Greenberg said.

Clinton Continues to Hold Large Lead Over Trump
Hillary Clinton has a negative 48-50 percent favorability rating, down slightly from 48-48 percent in March, while Donald Trump has a negative 26-70 percent favorability rating, down a little from 29-67 percent in March.  Clinton leads Trump 56-30 percent, little changed from a 57-34 percent lead in March.

“The battle for New York – between the native New York businessman and the former Senator from her adopted home state of New York – continues to be a one-sided race,” Greenberg said. “With a two-to-one Democratic enrollment edge, Clinton has a nearly two-to-one edge over Trump. Her 67-point lead with Democrats and 14-point lead with independents trumps his 49-point lead with Republicans.  While it’s not easy to win an election when half the electorate views you unfavorably, it’s still easier than when two-thirds view you unfavorably.”

Cuomo Standing with Voters Edges Up….Slightly
Cuomo has a 54-41 percent favorability rating, up a little from 52-43 percent in February and his job performance rating is a negative 43-56 percent, up slightly from negative 42-58 percent in February.

“Cuomo has seen a slight uptick in his favorability and job performance ratings – now both at their best level since April 2015 – although this poll was completed prior to news breaking that the Administration was facing Federal subpoenas,” Greenberg said.  “Interestingly, his favorability rating was down a little in New York City but up in both the downstate suburbs and upstate, while on a partisan basis he improved more with Republicans – although still very much under water with them – than he did with Democrats or independents.”

This Siena College Poll was conducted April 24-27, 2016 by telephone calls conducted in English to 802 New York State registered voters. Respondent sampling was initiated by asking for the youngest male in the household.  It has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points including the design effects resulting from weighting. Sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample of landline (from ASDE Survey Sampler, Inc.) and cell phone (from Survey Sampling International) telephone numbers from within New York State weighted to reflect known population patterns. Data was statistically adjusted by age, party, region and gender to ensure representativeness.  The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in NYS. SRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. For more information, call Steve Greenberg at (518) 469-9858. For survey cross-tabs:www.Siena.edu/SRI/SNY.