5/6: Optimism Wanes amid Racial Divide in New York City… Mayor de Blasio’s Approval Rating Inches Up, but Voters Not Enthralled with His Performance
New York City voters are increasingly pessimistic about life in the Big Apple. When asked about the overall direction of the city, the electorate divides. 49% report things are going in the wrong direction, and 45% say they are moving in the right one. This is the first time since November of 2013, just before Mayor Bill de Blasio was elected, that the proportion of voters who think the city is on the right track has dipped below 50%. Although a stark racial divide exists on this question, there has been a decrease in the proportions of both white and African American voters who think the city is moving in the right direction.
To compound New Yorkers’ downbeat attitude about the city, fewer than one in five residents, 17%, believes the overall quality of life in the city has improved over the last year. A majority, 56%, reports it has either gotten worse, 33%, or has remained the same which, in their view, is a bad thing, 23%.
On the specifics of life in New York City, only 9% of adults citywide believe the number of homeless, panhandlers, or mentally ill has decreased in the past year while more than four in ten, 42%, think this situation in New York City has gotten worse. 43% say the number of homeless, panhandlers, or mentally ill on city streets has remained the same. One bright spot does exist. Six in ten residents, 60%, have either a great deal of confidence, 25%, or a fair amount of confidence, 35%, in the police officers in their community to protect them from violent crime.
Opinions differ based on race on these questions. This polarization is also prominent in attitudes toward New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Views also differ based on the socioeconomic status of city dwellers.
Opinions about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are incongruous. The mayor’s overall job approval rating has inched up to 44% from 39% in March 2014, and nearly six in ten voters, 59%, have a favorable impression of him. However, only 40% of voters consider de Blasio to be changing New York City for the better, and a majority of voters, 53%, do not think his policies are historic and transforming the city.
On the specifics of Mayor de Blasio’s job performance, attitudes are lukewarm. While pluralities of residents citywide approve of how he is handling the city’s schools, 47%, and economic development, 47%, they divide about de Blasio’s performance on crime. Regarding the New York City budget, 42% disapprove and 40% approve, but a notable 18% are unsure how to rate Mr. de Blasio on this issue. Mayor de Blasio’s score on his handling of the relationship between police and the community is in negative territory. Not surprisingly, there is a substantial difference in opinion along racial lines.
Mayor de Blasio, as mentioned above, is well-liked by a majority of New York City voters. The mayor is viewed by, at least, a majority of voters as someone who cares about the average person, a good leader, and a unifier who can get things done. However, on each of these questions, there has been a dip in the proportions of voters who perceive de Blasio positively. The mayor is also viewed as a man of action.
A majority of voters, though, considers de Blasio to be irresponsible when he arrives late for public events, and they divide about whether or not the mayor is spending too much time discussing policy on the national level and not focusing enough on what he can be doing for New York City.
What does all of this mean for de Blasio in 2017? A plurality, 47%, reports he deserves to be re-elected.
On policy questions, more than three in four residents, 77%, support increasing the minimum wage. But, more than six in ten, 63%, oppose charging for plastic grocery bags and hiring more police if it means cutting other city programs, 62%.
“Depending upon one’s perspective of Mayor de Blasio, the glass is either half full or half empty,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, “Many New Yorkers are troubled by the direction and conditions of the city although they generally like the mayor.”
- Voters in New York City divide about the way things are going in the city. 49% believe the city is moving in the wrong direction while 45% say it is moving in the right one. There has been a shift on this question since it was last reported in March 2014. At that time, a majority, 53% considered New York City to be on track while 42% thought it was off course. This is the first time since November 2013 that fewer than half of voters think the city is moving in the right direction (Trend).
- Racial differences exist. African American voters, 53%, are more likely than whites, 35%, to say the city is moving in the right direction. Still, there has been a decline in the proportions of both African American and white voters who say the city is on course since the spring of 2014. At that time, 60% of African Americans and 45% of whites thought the city was on track.
- Voters in Manhattan, 50%, are more likely than those in the other boroughs to say the city is on the right course. A majority in Queens and Staten Island, 52%, and nearly half, 48%, of those in the Bronx, say the Big Apple is on the wrong path. Brooklyn voters divide with 48% reporting it is moving in the wrong direction. 44% say it is going in the right direction.
- 17% of residents say the quality of life in New York City has gotten better over the past year while one in three, 33%, says it has gotten worse. 47% report it has remained the same. Of those, 23% describe the status quo as a bad thing, and 20% say the lack of change is a good thing. Four percent who say the quality of life has remained the same do not specify whether the lack of change is good or bad.
- Only 9% of New York City residents say the number of homeless, panhandlers, and mentally ill on the city’s streets has declined in the past year. 42% report it has increased, and 43% think it has stayed the same.
- 60% of adults citywide have a great deal, 25%, or fair amount, 35%, of confidence in police in their community to protect them from violent crime. 18% have some faith in the New York City Police Department, and 20% have very little confidence.
- White residents, 76%, are more likely than Latinos, 54%, and African Americans, 49%, to trust their local police, at least a fair amount, to keep them safe from violent crime.
- Looking at the City Council’s move to decriminalize certain offenses, 66% support decriminalizing being in a park after dark, and 63% support downgrading bicycling on sidewalks to a civil violation. A majority, 55%, thinks public consumption of alcohol should be decriminalized, and nearly half, 49%, say the same about jumping a turnstile. Residents divide about whether public urination should be reclassified to a civil violation. 50% believe it should while 47% say it should not.
Ratings for de Blasio a Mixed Bag
- 44% of New York City voters think Bill de Blasio is doing either an excellent, 8%, or a good job, 36%, as mayor. This is up slightly from 39% in March 2014. A majority, 52%, currently rates his performance as fair, 34%, or poor, 18%.
- White voters, 32%, are less likely than African Americans, 59%, and Latinos, 49%, to approve of how Mayor de Blasio is doing in office. The biggest increase in the mayor’s standing has been among African Americans. In March 2014, 50% of African American voters approved of de Blasio’s performance. 45% of Latino and 30% of white voters, at that time, said the same.
- By borough, a majority of Manhattan voters, 53%, rates de Blasio highly. 49% of those in Brooklyn and 47% in the Bronx do the same. Voters in Queens and Staten Island, 33%, are the least likely to approve of how Mayor de Blasio is performing in office.
- 59% of voters citywide have a favorable impression Mayor de Blasio, unchanged from March 2014. 34% have an unfavorable view of him. Again, racial differences are present. 74% of Latino and 73% of African American voters, compared with just 40% of whites, have a positive opinion of the mayor.
- Four in ten voters, 40%, think Mayor de Blasio is changing New York City for the better while 20% say he is having a negative impact on the city. About one in three, 34%, believes he is not affecting the city at all. Six percent, down from 12%, are unsure. While the proportion of voters who say de Blasio is improving the city has changed little from 43% last year, there has been an increase in those who say he is not having any impact. Last year, 25% had this view.
- African Americans, 58%, and Latinos, 53%, are more than twice as likely as whites, 21%, to say Mayor de Blasio is changing the city for the better.
- A majority of voters, 53%, does not think the mayor’s policies are historic and transformative as he describes. 39% believe they are.
- 47% of New York City residents approve of how Mayor de Blasio is handling the city’s public schools while 40% disapprove. A notable 12% are unsure.
- 47% approve of the mayor’s approach to economic development. 42% disapprove. 11% are unsure.
- Adults in New York City divide about how Mayor de Blasio is handling crime in the city. 47% approve while 46% disapprove.
- Residents also divide about the mayor’s handling of the city’s budget, but a notable proportion are unsure. 40% approve of de Blasio’s approach while 42% disapprove. 18% are unsure.
- 57% of residents disapprove of how Mayor de Blasio approaches relations between the police and the community. 37% approve.
The Specifics of Mayor de Blasio’s Image
- 59% of voters, compared with 65% last year, view Mr. de Blasio as someone who cares about the average person.
- 53% of the city’s electorate report the mayor is a good leader for New York City. This is also down from 58% in March 2014.
- 51% of voters, down from 59% last year, say Mayor de Blasio can unify New York City and get it working again. 43% disagree.
- Nearly six in ten, 59%, do not think that the mayor is all talk and no action. 34%, though, say he is all talk.
- 55% of voters consider Mayor de Blasio to be irresponsible when he arrives late for public events. 37% disagree. 63% of whites and 53% of Latinos think de Blasio’s tardiness is not a favorable trait. African American voters divide. 46% think the mayor is being irresponsible when he does not show up on time while the same proportion, 46%, disagrees.
- Voters divide about whether or not Mayor de Blasio is spending too much time discussing his policy positions nationally and not enough time doing what he can for New York City. 44% believe this to be the case while 46% do not think he is focusing on the national stage.
- 47% of voters think Mayor de Blasio deserves to be re-elected. 42% do not think he should receive another term in office. 11% are unsure.
- Many voters, 69%, report de Blasio’s decision to not immediately endorse Hillary Clinton makes sense. 24% say he is being disloyal to the Democratic Party.
City Dwellers Favor Raising the Minimum Wage; Oppose Plastic Bag Surcharge and Hiring of Additional Police
- Nearly eight in ten adults, 77%, support raising the minimum wage to at least $13 even if some businesses say it will reduce hiring. One in five residents, 20%, opposes the proposal. Regardless of race, borough of residence, or class status, there is overwhelming support to increase the minimum wage.
- More than six in ten New York City residents, 63%, oppose a bill which would require grocery stores to charge 10 cents for each plastic bag. 36% support this proposal. Regardless of race or class status, at least a majority opposes charging for plastic bags in grocery stores.
- 62% of adults citywide are against hiring an additional 1,000 police officers if it means cutting back other city programs. 32% support this initiative. Here, too, opposition crosses racial lines. Latinos, 73%, and African Americans, 64%, are more likely to oppose hiring new police officers than whites, 52%.
Two months after taking office, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is well-liked among registered voters. Many think de Blasio cares about the average person, is fulfilling campaign promises, can unify the city, and is a good leader. However, there is a significant racial divide, and fewer than four in ten registered voters in the city approve of de Blasio’s overall job performance as mayor. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s job approval rating at this time in his first term was 50%.
POLL MUST BE SOURCED: The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll
“Many voters like the qualities that de Blasio has as mayor, and they are comfortable with him,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “But, race matters, and he still has some convincing to do when it comes to carrying out his responsibilities at City Hall.”
39% of registered voters in New York City approve of the job Mayor de Blasio is doing in office. This includes 10% who think he is doing an excellent job and 29% who say he is doing a good one. 37% rate de Blasio’s performance as fair while one in five voters — 20% — thinks he is performing poorly. Five percent have either never heard of de Blasio or are unsure how to rate him.
- Among African American voters, 50% approve of the job de Blasio is doing. 40% give him fair marks, and 7% rate his performance as poor.
- 45% of Latino voters give de Blasio high marks. This compares with 32% who think he is doing an average job, and 19% who call his job performance poor.
- 30% of white voters think well of how Mayor de Blasio is doing his job. 34% rate his performance as fair, and 30% say he is doing poorly.
- 44% of Bronx voters approve of how de Blasio is doing in office. About one-third — 33% — rate his performance as fair, and 19% say he is doing a poor job.
- In Brooklyn, 43% give de Blasio a thumbs-up. 37% believe he is doing a fair job, and 14% think he is performing poorly.
- 36% of voters in Queens and Staten Island think de Blasio is doing either an excellent or good job as mayor. 40% describe his performance as fair, and 22% say it is poor.
- Three in ten Manhattan voters — 30% — approve of how de Blasio is doing in office. 36% say he is doing a fair job, and 26% think his performance falls short.
Despite de Blasio’s approval rating, nearly six in ten voters — 59% — have a favorable opinion of him. About one in three — 33% — has an unfavorable one, and 8% have either never heard of him or are unsure how to rate him.
In The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll reported in December before de Blasio took office, 56% said they liked de Blasio, 20% had a lesser opinion of him, and 23% had either never heard of him or were unsure how to rate him. Just before Election Day, 64% thought well of de Blasio. 26% had a negative impression of him, and 10% had either never heard of him or were unsure how to rate him.
There is a racial divide. While 78% of African American voters say they like de Blasio, 55% of Latino voters and 49% of white voters say the same.
The Nitty-Gritty of de Blasio’s Image
Close to two-thirds of voters think de Blasio cares about people like them, and more than six in ten say he is fulfilling his campaign promises. Majorities of voters also say he can unify the city and is a good leader for the Big Apple. When it comes to whether de Blasio is changing New York City for the better, a plurality of voters think he is, and nearly half think he is meeting their expectations.
- 65% of voters citywide say de Blasio cares about people like them. 31% disagree, and 4% are unsure. Race matters on this question. While 86% of African American voters think de Blasio is concerned about them, 66% of Latinos and 51% of white voters say the same.
- More than six in ten New York City voters — 63% — think de Blasio is fulfilling campaign promises. One in four — 25% — does not think he is, and 11% are unsure. By race, more than seven in ten African American voters — 72% — believe de Blasio is keeping his word. This compares with 61% of Latino voters and 57% of whites.
- 59% of registered voters think de Blasio can unify the city. 34% do not have confidence in him to do so, and 7% are unsure. There are racial differences. 79% of African American voters and 64% of Latinos think de Blasio is a unifying force. This compares with only 42% of white voters who share this opinion.
- When it comes to de Blasio’s leadership, 58% believe he is a good leader for the city. About one in three — 33% — says he is not, and 9% are unsure. Again, race comes into play. Nearly eight in ten African American voters — 79% — have confidence in de Blasio’s leadership ability while 57% of Latinos and 46% of whites agree.
- Nearly half of registered voters — 48% — think de Blasio is meeting their expectations as New York City mayor. Six percent say he is exceeding them while 35% believe he is falling below what they had anticipated. 11% are unsure. By race, more than six in ten African American voters — 63% — say he is meeting their expectations. This compares with 48% of Latino voters and 39% of white voters who have this opinion.
- 43% of voters say de Blasio is changing New York City for the better. 20% think he is having a negative impact, and 25% believe he is having no effect at all. 12% are unsure. While about two-thirds of African American voters — 66% — think de Blasio is having a positive impact on the city, 44% of Latino voters and 30% of white voters say the same.
- 59% of voters say de Blasio’s political ideology is about right. 28% think he is too liberal, and 7% say he is too conservative. Six percent are unsure. In December’s survey, 61% said his ideology was about right, 21% reported he was too liberal, and 4% thought he was too conservative. 14%, then, were unsure.
Majority of Adults Approves of de Blasio’s Handling of Winter Storms… Schools Tell a Different Tale
56% of New York City residents are satisfied with how de Blasio and his administration managed this winter’s snowstorms. 41% disapprove, and 3% are unsure. Racial differences exist. More than seven in ten African Americans — 72% — think well of how de Blasio handled the snowfalls. This compares with 50% of Latinos and 49% of whites.
But, do adults citywide agree with how de Blasio handled school closings during those storms? 50% do not think he dealt with the situation correctly. 46% believe he did, and 4% are unsure. While majorities of African Americans — 55% — and Latinos — 53% — say de Blasio’s assessment was spot on, just 40% of whites agree. Parents of public school children divide. 50% think de Blasio correctly addressed the situation while 50% think he fumbled it.
Six in Ten Agree with de Blasio’s Focus on Public Schools
In contrast with former Mayor Bloomberg’s strong support for charter schools, Mayor de Blasio wants a better balance with public schools. And, six in ten residents in the city — 60% — approve of that emphasis. 34% disapprove, and 6% are unsure.
Among parents with school children in the city’s public school system, 65% think de Blasio has the correct stance on charter schools. 31% disagree, and 4% are unsure.
Race is a factor. 67% of Latinos and 64% of African Americans agree that de Blasio should emphasize public schools over charter schools. This compares with 49% of whites in the city who say the same. By borough, 64% in Queens and Staten Island, 61% of those in Brooklyn, and 60% of residents in the Bronx agree with de Blasio’s focus on public schools. 51% of Manhattan adults share this opinion.
52% Have Positive View of Chirlane McCray
A majority of registered voters — 52% — like Mayor de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray. 19% have an unfavorable impression of her, and 29% have either never heard of her or are unsure how to rate her. When The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist last reported this question in December, 46% thought well of McCray, 8% had a lesser view of her, and 45% had either never heard of her or were unsure how to rate her.
City’s Compass Pointing in the Right Direction, Says Majority
53% of voters think New York City is moving in the right direction. 42% think it is moving in the wrong one, and 5% are unsure. In December, 51% thought the city was on course. 36% believed it was off track, and 13% were unsure.
However, there has been a shift in the specific groups who think the city is on the right path. There has been an increase in the proportion of African American voters who say the city is on course. 60% have this view now compared with 49% in December. There has been a slight decline among white voters. 45% say the Big Apple is on track while a slim majority — 52% — did so in that previous survey. Among Latinos, there is little change. Half — 50% — currently say New York City is on track while 47% had this opinion three months ago.