Voters Divided on Common Core; Support 2-Year Moratorium

NY state building

Voters Divided on Common Core; Support 2-Year Moratorium

Overwhelming Support for SED over Gov on Setting Education Policy

Cuomo Ratings Slip; Still Maintains 40+ Point Leads over Astorino/Trump

Majority of NYers See Upstate Struggling More than Downstate Economically

Loudonville, NY. Voters continue to be divided by the State Education Department’s (SED) Common Core learning standards, with 36 percent saying they are too demanding, 24 percent saying they’re not demanding enough and 23 percent saying they are about right (34-27-23 percent in November). And division continues on confidence in Common Core standards better preparing students to be college or career ready upon graduation, with 46 percent saying they are confident and 47 percent saying they are not (45-49 percent in November). By a 50-38 percent margin, voters want implementation of Common Core standards delayed for two years.

By a 62-21 percent margin, voters say they trust SED more than the governor to set education policy, with 13 percent trusting neither. Pluralities of voters say there is too much testing in schools and that the Common Core has increased state testing. Voters overwhelmingly support the state funding universal pre-K; a majority says they are willing to pay more in taxes to fund universal pre-K; however, a majority of voters would prefer to see existing school programs receive additional funding prior to focusing on universal pre-K.

Andrew Cuomo’s favorability rating fell to 60-35 percent from 66-28 percent last month and his job performance rating also fell from 54-46 percent last month to 48-51 percent today. However, in head-to-head matchups, he continues to lead Rob Astorino by 42 points (down from 48 points last month) and Donald Trump by 44 points (down from 48 points last month). By a margin of 56-32 percent, voters say upstate is having a tougher economic time than downstate, although a plurality of New York City voters say downstate is in tougher shape.

“As the controversy around the Common Core and its implementation continues to swirl among politicians, education advocates, parents, and teachers, New York voters remain divided on whether or not the new standards are too demanding, and whether or not those standards will better prepare students for college or the workplace after graduation,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “Even as the debate over the Common Core rages on, New Yorkers’ attitudes about the Common Core have changed very little over the last three months.”

“On the issue of state testing in public schools, 45 percent say there’s too much of it, down from 52 percent in November,” Greenberg said. “And a plurality of voters, 41 percent, says the Common Core standards have increased testing, compared to 30 percent who say the new standards have not changed the number of state tests.

“When it comes to who should be setting education policy in the state, there’s no contest. By an overwhelming three-to-one margin, New Yorkers trust SED and the Regents more than they trust the governor. It’s an issue that unites voters, as at least 59 percent from every region, party, gender, ideology, race, and age group say they trust SED more than the governor to set education policy,” Greenberg said.

“New Yorkers clearly support universal pre-K. An overwhelming 71 percent support using state tax dollars to fund universal pre-K for all school districts, including a majority of Republicans, two-thirds of independents, more than 80 percent of Democrats, and at least 65 percent from every region. By a 54-43 percent margin, voters say they are willing to pay more in taxes to fund universal pre-K across the state. A majority of independents and two-thirds of Democrats say they would, although two-thirds of Republicans say they wouldn’t,” Greenberg said.

“However, while voters strongly support universal pre-K, by a 55-34 percent margin voters say they would prefer new state education funding be used to support existing public school programs, rather than institute universal pre-K. New York City voters are nearly evenly divided, while a clear majority of downstate suburbanites and two-thirds of upstaters would prefer to see funding go toward existing school programs,” Greenberg said.

Cuomo Favorability, Job Performance Ratings Slip; Continues to Lead Potential Challenger by 40+ Points

A majority of voters, 54 percent, are prepared to re-elect Cuomo, compared to 37 percent who would prefer someone else (down from 57-33 percent last month). Astorino has a negative 11-15 percent favorability rating (down from 14-10 percent last month). Trump has a negative 31-62 percent favorability rating (down from 38-57 percent last month).

“Cuomo’s favorability, job performance and generic re-elect ratings all fell this month compared to last month, with the biggest drops occurring with independent, downstate suburban and upstate voters. Virtually all of the gains that the Governor saw in his ratings between November and January have been lost,” Greenberg said. “Cuomo, Trump and Astorino were not alone, however, as the Assembly, the Senate and Hillary Clinton saw their favorability ratings drop by double digits this month.

“With the election now only eight months away, the Governor maintained huge leads in matchups against two potential Republican opponents. While both Astorino and Trump now have the support of a small majority of Republicans, they both continue to trail Cuomo by at least two-to-one with independents, and neither hits double digits with Democrats, who comprise 50 percent of the registered voters in the state.”

Majority Says Upstate Struggling Economically More than Downstate; City Voters Don’t Agree
“Most New Yorkers recognize that upstate is having a tougher time economically than is downstate, however, that view is far from universal depending on where you live. Upstaters say their region is hurting the most by a 79-13 percent margin. Downstate suburbanites are more closely divided with 49 percent saying upstate is having the tougher time and 39 percent saying it’s downstate. And New York City voters say that downstate is suffering tougher economic times by a 45-38 percent margin,” Greenberg said.

Strong Support Continues for Legalizing Medical Marijuana; Opposition for Legalizing Recreational Use
“More than three-quarters of voters favor some effort to legalize medical marijuana in New York, with 45 percent supporting full legalization and 32 percent supporting the governor’s pilot program. Last month it was 49 percent for full legalization and 28 percent for the governor’s program,” Greenberg said. “New Yorkers, however, are not ready to see New York join Colorado and Washington and legalize the recreational use of marijuana. They oppose that idea 53-43 percent, little changed from 54-41 percent last month. It has the support of a majority of voters under 35, independents and liberals.”

Small Plurality Remains Opposed to Fracking; Close division Continues
Fracking is opposed by 43 percent of voters and supported by 38 percent (exactly the same as it was in October, the last time it was asked).

“Fracking continues to divide New Yorkers nearly evenly, as it has for the last two years. It is supported by a two-to-one margin among Republicans and opposed by the same margin among Democrats, while independents are virtually evenly divided. New York City voters remain opposed by a 13-point margin, while upstaters oppose it by a four-point margin and downstate suburbanites support it by five points,” Greenberg said.

Strong Support for Allowing Localities to Determine Their Minimum Wage
“Nearly three quarters of voters, 73 percent, support allowing local governments to increase the minimum wage in their community to a higher rate than the state’s minimum wage, while that idea is opposed by 24 percent,” Greenberg said. “Republicans are evenly divided on the issue, which enjoys the support of nearly three-quarters of independents and 85 percent of Democrats. At least two-thirds in every region support it.”

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This Siena College Poll was conducted February 16-20, 2014 by telephone calls to 802 New York State registered voters. It has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.5 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: