By Richard Lee
Opinions among New Yorkers who live in the New York City area often are at odds with those who live in other parts of the state, but a new Siena College Research Institute poll shows voters little geographic disparity in how residents of the Empire State feel about a variety of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The world is a different place than it was two months ago, and to a certain extent we see that in the findings,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said. “Half of New Yorkers know someone who has tested positive; one-third know someone who has died; one-third have been laid off or had someone in their household laid off, half are working from home when they don’t normally.
“Lives turned upside down, yet more people think New York is on the right track today than any time we’ve asked that question in the last 15 years,” he said.
The poll found overwhelming support across all regions of the state for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s decision to extend “On Pause´´ restrictions – which include keeping schools and non-essential businesses closed – until at least May 15. Support for the governor’s decision was 89% in New York City, 87% in suburbs and 85% upstate.
The institute defines upstate as all counties outside of New York City, as well as Long Island, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties, which are considered suburban for the poll.
Support was even stronger for the governor´s executive order requiring New Yorkers to wear a face mask or covering in public when social distancing cannot be maintained. The poll showed support at 94% in New York City, 93% in the suburbs and 89% upstate.
New Yorkers in all regions gave Cuomo high marks for his handling of the pandemic – 88% in New York City and 81% in both the suburbs and New York.
Cuomo was rated favorably by voters in all regions, but his highest numbers were in New York City, where 86% of the respondents had a favorable rating for the governor. The numbers dropped to 76% in the suburbs and 66% upstate.
The 20% gap between Cuomo’s favorability numbers in New York City and upstate is not a surprise. Within the state he governs, his popularity varies widely. In 2018, Cuomo was re-elected to a third term as governor largely on the strength of Democratic voters in the highly populated New York City region. Outside of the city, Long Island, and Rockland and Westchester counties, he lost almost all other counties in the upstate, central and western parts of the state.
Additional details of the poll are available on the Siena College Research Institute website.
Richard Lee is executive director of the Jandoli Institute and an associate professor in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University.