Majority of Voters Think Silver Should Step Down as Speaker

NY state building

• Majority of Voters Think Silver Should Step Down as Speaker
• Voters: Pass 10-Point Women’s Equality Act, Including Abortion Provisions; Strongly Favor Making NY Law Consistent with Roe v. Wade & Current Practice
• Cuomo Favorability/Job Performance Lowest Since He’s Been Governor

Loudonville, NY. More than half of New York voters, 52 percent, feel Speaker Sheldon Silver “should step down as Speaker.” They say he “failed the people of New York and (former Assemblyman Vito) Lopez’s accusers by not addressing the issue appropriately and by not being completely honest.” Thirty-two percent feel Silver’s approach to the Lopez situation “is not a reason for him to step down as Speaker,” even though he “might not have handled the situation ideally but he is not guilty of anything and he has apologized,” according to a new Siena College Poll of New York voters released today.

A majority of voters favor passing all ten points Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, including the two abortion provisions, compared to one-third who would like to see nine points of the Act passed, excluding those provisions. Voters strongly support making New York law consistent with Roe v. Wade and current practice regarding late-term abortions. A majority also agrees with supporters of those provisions that the bill merely protects existing rights, while one-third agree with opponents that the provisions expand abortion rights.

Cuomo’s favorability rating, 58-35 percent (down from 64-32 percent last month), is the lowest it has been since he’s been governor, as is his job performance rating at 50-49 percent (down from 52-47 percent in May).

“Speaker Silver – with his worst-ever favorability rating in a Siena College Poll and a negative three-to-one job performance rating – does not have the confidence of New York voters, with more than half suggesting that he step down as speaker in light of his handling of the Lopez investigation,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “Silver, who represents a district in lower Manhattan and has led Assembly Democrats for nearly two decades, has never enjoyed a strong favorability rating from statewide voters, with more voters consistently viewing him unfavorably than favorably. However, at 20-43 percent, it is now better than two-to-one unfavorable.

“A majority of Republicans and independents, downstate suburbanites and upstaters, men and women, and a plurality of Democrats and New York City voters believe Speaker Silver should step down,” Greenberg said.

A Clear Majority of New York Voters Fall on the Pro-Choice Side of the Current Abortion Debate
By a 60-24 percent margin voters support making state law consistent with Roe v. Wade. By a 67-28 percent margin they support making state law consistent with current practice regarding late-term abortions to protect a woman’s life or health, as determined by a licensed physician. And by a 56-31 percent margin voters support including both provisions in the passage of the Women’s Equality Act. Similarly, 53 percent want to see the Women’s Equality Act passed including the abortion provisions, compared to 32 percent who would like the Act to pass with all the points except the abortion provisions, while nine percent do not want to see it passed at all.

“Both questions of making New York law consistent with current practice have the support of a majority of voters from every region, party, both genders, and Catholics, with the exception of codifying Roe v. Wade only having the support of a plurality of Republicans,” Greenberg said. “Should both of those provisions be in the Women’s Equality Act? Yes, according to a majority of voters from every region, men and women, Democrats and independents. A plurality of Republicans says no, while a plurality of Catholics say yes. Fifty-two percent believe these provisions protect existing rights, compared to 33 percent who believe they expand abortion rights.

“When it comes to passing the Women’s Equality Act, two-thirds of Democrats, a majority of New York City voters and women, and a plurality of independents, upstate and downstate suburban voters, and men say they want it passed with all 10 points proposed by the Governor, including the abortion provisions.” Greenberg said. “A plurality of Republicans wants to see the nine points passed, without the abortion provisions, while Catholic voters are evenly divided between favoring 10 points or nine points of the Women’s Equality Act being passed.”

Cuomo Ratings Hit Lowest Level in His 2½ Years As Governor
Fifty-two percent say they are prepared to re-elect Cuomo, while 41 percent would prefer someone else (down from 55-36 percent in May).

“Governor Cuomo’s standing with voters has now reached the lowest since he’s been governor,” Greenberg said. “His 58 percent favorable rating is the lowest it has ever been as governor – four points lower than the 62 percent rating he had two months ago – and the lowest it’s been since October 2010, one month before his election. His drop this month is more attributable to Democrats than to Republicans or independents.

“His job performance rating – now virtually dead even – is also the lowest it has been during his tenure as governor. For the fourth consecutive month and fourth time ever, more voters think he’s doing a poor job as governor than an excellent job,” Greenberg said. “While 62 percent of voters were prepared to re-elect Cuomo in December, that has fallen ten points, as the percentage of those preferring ‘someone else’ has climbed 12 points.”

Gov’s Tax-Free NY Initiative Largely Unknown to Most Voters; Those with Opinion, Are Evenly Divided
“Despite the Governor and his cabinet doing roughly two solid weeks of events to promote his tax-free New York proposal, only about one-third of voters have read or heard a great deal or some about it, while two-thirds say they have heard or read nothing at all or not very much about it,” Greenberg said.

“When asked whether they support or oppose passage of the tax-free New York legislation, 64 percent said they do not have enough information to say, while 18 percent support it and 17 percent oppose it,” Greenberg said. “Familiarity with the proposal is greatest upstate – more than half of upstaters have heard or read at least some about it, while nearly half of downstaters have heard nothing at all about it. However, opposition to the proposal is also greatest upstate, with 20 percent supporting it and 30 percent opposing it.”

Addressing Legislative Corruption is Top Priority for Voters Heading into Last Week of Session
“Heading into the final week of the 2013 regular legislative session, a plurality of voters, 44 percent – including a majority or plurality of voters from every region, party and demographic group, and up three points from last month – says that passing laws to address corruption should be the number one priority for the governor and legislators before session ends. Approving the Governor’s Women’s Equality Act came in second at 23 percent, up two points from last month, followed by public campaign financing at 13 percent, down two points, and passing the casino amendment at 12 percent, down one point,” Greenberg said.

Support for Casino Gambling Amendment Wanes in Last Month
“Support for a constitutional amendment allowing non-Indian casinos in New York has fallen to 49-40 percent, down from 53-37 percent last month,” Greenberg said. “While the amendment has support from a majority of independents, only pluralities of Democrats and Republicans support it. There is little regional difference, as it has support from 51 percent of upstaters, 48 percent in New York City and 47 percent in the downstate suburbs.”

Opposition to Fracking Increases a Little, Even as the Issue Continues to Divide Voters
“Opposition to fracking increased a little this month and opponents outnumber supporters 44-37 percent, up from 41-39 percent last month. The seven-point edge in opposition is the largest it has been,” Greenberg said. “There is a clear partisan divide as it is supported nearly two-to-one by Republicans, opposed two-to-one by Democrats and divides independents virtually evenly. A majority of upstaters and plurality of New York City voters oppose fracking, while a plurality of downstate suburbanites wants to see fracking move forward.”

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This Siena College Poll was conducted June 9-13, 2013 by telephone calls to 804 New York State registered voters. It has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points. Data was statistically adjusted by age, party, region and gender to ensure representativeness. Sampling was conducted via random digit dialing to landline and cell phones weighted to reflect known population patterns. The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in New York State. 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 and frequencies: