A majority of New York voters believe the state is heading in the wrong direction, with crime and economic concerns from government spending to taxes and inflation are among the top concerns they cite as the election season gets underway, a Siena College poll released Monday found.
The poll, which shows new trouble spots for Gov. Kathy Hochul as she seeks a full term, reflects an increasingly restive mood among the electorate in the state — especially among independent and suburban voters who will prove crucial in the statewide contest.
Voters were supportive of the changes made by lawmakers and the governor to New York's bail law that expanded the circumstances in which cash bail will be required, though a plurality doubt the changes will have a noticeable effect on crime.
And voters give Hochul herself low marks on issues the governor has sought to assert as strengths, including her pledge to restore trust in government and provide effective leadership while also rejecting her push for state funding for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills.
But the poll shows little bounce for Hochul after a budget that included measures generally supported by voters, but also coincided with the resignation of her handpicked lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, within days of its passage amid an indictment on charges of fraud and bribery.
New York voters by a margin of 73% to 16% support the coming suspension of 16 cents in taxes on per gallon gasoline sales. They back allowing restaurants to provide drinks with takeout food orders, 50% to 38%. And the poll found support for a beefed-up, $4.2 billion bond act for shoring up environmental infrastructure, 52% to 24%.
But a solid majority of voters are opposed to spending $600 million in state taxpayer money to construct a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in western New York: 63% surveyed oppose it; only 24% support it.
Voters backed the changes to New York's law that largely ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges, 67% to 14%. The measure expanded the criteria for when cash bail could be considered to include gun trafficking charges as well as alleged repeat offenses.
However, they are mixed on whether the changes will help reduce crime: 32% believe it will; 38% do not, and 16% believe it will increase the crime rate in New York.
Crime is emerging as a key issue in the race for governor this year amid a rise in violent crime in New York and around the country. Hochul's rivals in both parties have criticized her on the campaign trail over her handling of the issue.
The poll found 24% of voters identified crime and public safety as their top concerns, followed by taxes, the economy and honesty in government all in the single digits. Crime was cited as the top issue by 35% of New York City voters and 22% of suburban voters.
Hochul's own favorable rating has not budged since March: 44% of voters hold a favorable view of her; 34% do not. She remains better known than her rivals in the gubernatorial race, however.
Hochul is set to face Rep. Tom Suozzi and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in a Democratic primary on June 28 as she seeks a full, four-year term.
Still, 45% of voters are prepared to move on from the incumbent governor if she wins the June primary, the poll found, with those New Yorkers preferring a generic "someone else" over her. That includes 48% of independent voters as well as 52% of suburban voters.
The poll found 40% of voters plan to vote for Hochul this fall if she is the nominee, including 62% of Democratic voters.
The survey of 806 registered voters was conducted from April 18 to April 21; it has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.