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Plurality Says Corruption – Still Top End of Session Issue – Is More Serious in Legislature than Executive Branch

Plurality Says Corruption – Still Top End of Session Issue – Is More Serious in Legislature than Executive Branch

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Plurality Says Corruption – Still Top End of Session Issue – Is More Serious in Legislature than Executive Branch
Majority of Voters Trust Attorney General Most to Investigate State Government Corruption – More than Federal Prosecutors or JCOPE
60% Call Cuomo Ethical; 49% Prefer ‘Someone Else’ if He Runs in 2018
Overwhelming Support for Law to Allow Ridesharing; Plurality Oppose DFS Law

Loudonville, NY.  With a plurality of voters continuing to say that passing new laws to address corruption is still the top end of session issue – and 81 percent saying it’s ‘very important’ – 40 percent say corruption is a more serious problem in the Legislature, while 31 percent say it’s a more serious problem in the Executive branch controlled by the Governor.  While only eight percent say they trust JCOPE most to investigate state government corruption, and 34 percent say they trust Federal prosecutors the most, 51 percent say they most trust the State Attorney General, according to a new Siena College poll of New York State registered voters released today. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo, with favorability and job performance ratings virtually unchanged over the last four weeks, is seen as an ethical public official two-to-one, although a near majority of voters say they would prefer ‘someone else’ if he runs for re-election in two years. By an overwhelming 70-19 percent margin, voters support legislation to allow ridesharing companies to operate in their area, while voters oppose allowing daily fantasy sports companies to operate in New York 45-37 percent. 

“A near-unanimous 96 percent of New Yorkers continues to say passing anti-corruption legislation is important, with 81 percent saying it’s very important. A plurality of 31 percent say it should be the top end of session priority for the Governor and Legislature,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. 

“Corruption is seen as a more serious problem in the Legislature by 40 percent, although 31 percent say it’s more serious in the Executive branch,” Greenberg said. “By a wide margin, Democrats and independents say corruption is a more serious problem in the Legislature, while by a narrow margin, Republicans say it’s more serious in the offices and agencies controlled by the Governor.  Protestants and voters under 35 also see corruption as a more serious issue in the Executive branch, while voters from union households are closely divided.”

“When it comes to who voters trust most to investigate corruption in state government, the State Attorney General easily beats out Federal prosecutors and JCOPE,” Greenberg said. “The question made clear that the Attorney General is elected by voters while Federal prosecutors are appointed by the President and JCOPE members are appointed by the Governor and Legislature.  However, there is consistency of support for the AG irrespective of partisanship, region or any other demographic factor. 

“The Attorney General is most trusted by 50 or 51 percent of Democrats, Republicans, independents, upstaters, and downstaters.  In fact, the Attorney General is the most trusted investigator of between 47 and 55 percent of every demographic group.  It would be hard to find an issue where liberals, moderates and conservatives are more closely aligned,” Greenberg said.  “And despite all of his high profile convictions, Preet Bharara remains unknown to more than two-thirds of New Yorkers.”

Uptick in Support for Full-Time Legislature; Still Little Optimism Significant Reforms Will Be Passed
By a margin of 58-34 percent, up from 56-37 percent four weeks ago, voters support making the Legislature full-time with a ban on outside employment, compared to keeping the current system of part-time legislators who can have additional jobs. If legislators were full-time, opposition to increasing their pay is down significantly, with   50 percent opposing, compared to 47 percent supporting (it was 56-41 percent opposed four weeks ago).

“A strong majority of voters support making state legislators full-time and prohibiting outside employment.  While support is strongest among Democrats and downstaters, a majority from every party and region support a full-time Legislature with outside employment banned,” Greenberg said.  “If the Legislature was full-time with outside employment banned, Democrats and downstaters would support raising their salary, while independents are closely divided and Republicans and upstaters overwhelmingly oppose a pay raise for full-time legislators.

“Overwhelmingly, voters from every region and party continue to be pessimistic that any significant anti-corruption legislation will be passed before the Legislature ends session in a few weeks,” Greenberg said.

Voters Strongly See Cuomo as Ethical Public Official; Not Prepared to Re-Elect Him if He Runs in 2018
Cuomo has a 54-40 percent favorability rating, little changed from 54-41 percent four weeks ago, and his job performance rating is a negative 42-58 percent, little changed from negative 43-56 percent in early May. If he runs for re-election in 2018, 42 percent say they’re prepared to re-elect him, compared to a plurality of 49 percent who would prefer ‘someone else.’ By a 60-30 percent margin, voters say Cuomo is an ethical public official.

“While recent news stories have highlighted corruption investigations surrounding individuals close to the Governor and programs under the control of the Executive branch of government, voters’ views of Cuomo’s job performance and how they feel about him have barely moved in the last four weeks,” Greenberg said.

“By a strong two-to-one margin, voters say Cuomo is an ethical public official, a view overwhelmingly held by Democrats, independents and downstaters.  A strong majority of upstaters agrees as well. Even Republicans – who overwhelmingly view Cuomo unfavorably and give him a strongly negative job performance rating – are evenly divided on whether Cuomo is or is not an ethical public official,” Greenberg said.

“When it comes to thinking about re-electing Cuomo in 2018, however, only Democrats – and only 52 percent of them – are with him. A plurality of independents and an overwhelming majority of Republicans would prefer ‘someone else’ if Cuomo decides to run for a third term,” Greenberg said. “A small plurality of downstaters are prepared to re-elect Cuomo, while upstaters want ‘someone else’ by a two-to-one margin.”

New Yorkers Overwhelmingly Say Bring Ridesharing Services to Their Area
“At least two-thirds of voters from every region and every party support legislation to allow ridesharing companies such as Uber to operate in their areas,” Greenberg said.  “This is an issue on which New Yorkers of every political, geographic and demographic stripe can agree.”

More New Yorkers Oppose a Law to Legalize Daily Fantasy Sports Operations in the Empire State
“While Republicans, independents and downstate suburbanites are closely divided on the issue of legalizing daily fantasy sports operations in New York, a strong plurality of Democrats, upstaters and New York City voters oppose allowing companies such as FanDuel or DraftKings to operate in New York,” Greenberg said. “Men are divided while women are opposed.  Young voters strongly support while older voters strongly oppose.”

Clinton Continues to Hold Large Lead Over Trump; He Narrowed Gap from 26 to 21 Points
Hillary Clinton has a negative 46-51 percent favorability rating, down slightly from 48-50 percent four weeks ago, while Donald Trump has a negative 27-68 percent favorability rating, up slightly from 26-70 percent.  Clinton leads Trump 52-31 percent, a little tighter than her 56-30 percent lead in early May.

“Clinton’s lead among Democrats matches Trump’s lead among Republicans, however, Clinton has a nine-point lead with independents and in a state with a two-to-one Democratic enrollment edge, Clinton is able to easily maintain a comfortable 21-point lead,” Greenberg said. “While the candidates are nearly tied upstate, Clinton has a 12-point lead in the downstate suburbs and an overwhelming 46-point lead in New York City.  Her favorability rating may be under water by five points, but it’s far better than his, which is under water by 41 points.”

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This Siena College Poll was conducted May 22-26, 2016 by telephone calls conducted in English to 825 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 +/- 3.9 percentage points including the design effects resulting from weighting. Sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample of landline and cell phone telephone numbers (both from Survey Sampling International) 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.