Two years until New York City’s next mayoralty election, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s job approval rating has declined. To compound problems for de Blasio, support among his base has dropped, 9 points among African American voters and 12 points among Latino voters. Of note, the racial divide which has underscored views about, both, Mayor de Blasio and the city still exists, but that gap is less pronounced than in the past.
Mayor de Blasio’s approval rating among registered voters citywide stands at 38%, down from 44% in May. With the exception of Queens and Staten Island where de Blasio’s approval rating has inched up slightly, 33% to 37%, the mayor’s approval rating has fallen citywide. The most dramatic decline has occurred in Manhattan where 32% now rate de Blasio highly compared with 53% in the spring.
While de Blasio still scores higher among African American, 50%, and Latino voters, 37%, than white voters, 32%, Mayor de Blasio’s approval rating has fallen among both groups. Previously, the mayor received a 59% approval rating among African Americans and 49% among Latinos.
On the specifics of de Blasio’s job performance, the mayor has lost points on his handling of crime. Fewer than four in ten adults in the city, 39%, say they approve of his approach, and a majority, 51%, disapproves. In the previous Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll, residents divided, 47% to 46%. On the issue of police and community relations, the mayor also receives low marks with 37% saying they approve of how he is handling the issue and 53% reporting they do not. Mayor de Blasio fares better on the issue of race relations where 48% of residents approve of the mayor’s approach. On education, residents divide with 42% reporting they approve of his handling and 45% saying they disapprove. New York City public school parents, 49%, are more likely to give Mayor de Blasio higher marks than residents, overall, on his handling of the schools.
Although his favorable score among registered voters has dipped from 59% to 52%, Mayor de Blasio remains well-liked. Of note, de Blasio’s positive score has declined 13 points among Latinos and 16 points among voters in Manhattan.
On the bright side for de Blasio, voters citywide think he is working hard as mayor, 60%, and believe he understands the problems facing the city, 56%. Despite a decline from 59% earlier this year, a majority of voters, 53%, still maintains the mayor cares about the average person, and a plurality, 47%, disagree that de Blasio cares more about keeping low-level offenders out of jail than protecting the public from crime.
However, the electorate divides, 46% agree to 48% who disagree, about whether or not de Blasio is a good leader for New York City. Previously, a majority, 53%, thought de Blasio was a strong leader for the five boroughs. Voters, 54%, also report de Blasio spends too much time debating his policies on the national stage and is not focusing enough attention on New York City. In the last poll, voters divided. 44% agreed he spent too much time on the national stage, and 46% disagreed. Overall, 37% of registered voters now think de Blasio is changing the city for the better, and 28%, up from 20%, believe he is changing it for the worse.
Fewer than four in ten voters, citywide, 38%, think the Big Apple is moving in the right direction. This is down from 45% in the spring and matches the lowest proportion of voters since January of 2011 to say New York City is on track. In addition, more residents, when compared with May, say the overall quality of life in New York City has gotten worse, 41%, since Mayor de Blasio became mayor, up from 33%.
What does this all mean for de Blasio? Nearly half of voters, 49%, say de Blasio does not deserve to be re-elected, and 42% think he does. This has flipped from the previous poll when a plurality of voters, 47%, reported the mayor deserved a second term, and 42% thought he did not.
Despite waning support for de Blasio, especially among his base, potential opponents are not well-known citywide and attract little support from Democrats. When matched against possible challengers for the 2017 Democratic primary, at present, Mayor de Blasio is the odds-on favorite. Even a slim majority of Latinos, among whom de Blasio has lost the most traction, supports him. Mayor de Blasio’s strength in a potential primary contest is significant with one exception. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. edges de Blasio among Democratic voters in the Bronx.
POLL MUST BE SOURCED: Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll
“Looking ahead to a re-election campaign, there is no single potential opponent on the horizon poised to defeat the mayor,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “However, there is growing discontent among voters who have previously supported the mayor about the job he is doing.”
- 38% of registered voters citywide think de Blasio is doing either an excellent, 6%, or good, 32%, job in office. This is a 6 point drop in the mayor’s approval rating since May when he received 44%.
- While the proportion of white voters who approve of de Blasio’s job performance, 32%, is unchanged from the spring, fewer Latino voters and African American voters now give the mayor high marks. 37% of Latinos, down from 49%, and 50% of African Americans, down from 59%, approve of de Blasio’s job performance.
- By borough, the mayor has lost the most support in Manhattan. His approval rating in the borough is at 32%, down from 53%. In Brooklyn, 42% of voters, a drop from 49%, give the mayor good marks. 42% of those in the Bronx, a decline from 47%, approve of de Blasio’s job performance. Mayor de Blasio’s approval rating in Queens and Staten Island has increased slightly from 33% to 37%.
Mayor de Blasio on the Issues
Nearly half of residents, 48%, approve of how Mayor de Blasio is handling race relations in New York City. 40% disapprove. Half of the city’s white residents, 50%, are dissatisfied with the mayor’s job performance in this area in contrast to 60% of African Americans and 49% of Latinos who have a positive view.
Majorities of residents are unhappy with Mayor de Blasio’s handling of police and community relations, 53%, and crime, 51%. There is little change in perceptions of the mayor’s role when it comes to the police and city residents. However, earlier this year, residents divided about how the mayor approached the problem of crime in the city with 47% approving of his handling of the issue and 46% disapproving.
Mayor de Blasio has also lost support on how he is handling the city’s public schools. 42% currently approve, down from 47%. Still, nearly half of parents with a child in public school, 49%, approve of how he is tackling the issue.
Majority with Favorable View of de Blasio, but…
52% of voters, down from 59%, have a favorable view of de Blasio. 38% have an unfavorable one. Opinions of de Blasio among whites and African Americans are little changed. However, while more than six in ten Latino voters, 61%, have a positive impression of de Blasio, the proportion has declined from 74% in May.
Mayor de Blasio’s favorable rating has gone down citywide, except in Brooklyn. The most precipitous decline has occurred in Manhattan where 48% have a favorable opinion of the mayor, a 16 point change from 64% in the spring.
New York City voters attribute positive characteristics such as being a hard worker, understanding the problems facing the city, and caring about the average person to Mayor de Blasio. Additionally, they disagree that de Blasio emphasizes keeping low-level offenders out of jail at the expense of protecting citizens from crime.
However, there has been a decline in those who view the mayor as caring, as a good leader for New York City, and as a mayor who deserves to be re-elected. A majority now perceives de Blasio as spending too much time in the national spotlight.
When it comes to Mayor de Blasio’s overall impact on New York City, a plurality, 37%, says he is changing the Big Apple for the better, and 28% believe he is changing it for the worse. The proportion of those who believed the mayor was having a positive effect on the city in May was 40%. At that time only 20% thought he was making New York City worse.
Pessimism in New York City Grows
The proportion of New York City voters who think the city is moving in the right direction, 38%, is at its lowest since January 2011. Additionally, more than four in ten residents believe the overall quality of life in the Big Apple has gotten worse in the past year up from 33% last spring.
- 38% of voters, down from 45%, think the city is moving in the right direction, and a majority, 55%, says it is moving in the wrong one.
- Voters in Manhattan are the least optimistic. 31% of these voters report the city is moving in the right direction. This is a 19 point drop from 50% who had this view earlier this year.
- 41% of New York City residents think the overall quality of life in New York City has gotten worse in the last year, and 16% say it has gotten better. 19% believe it has stayed the same which is a bad thing, and 18% think it has remained the same which is a good thing. Three percent report the quality of life is about the same which is neither good nor bad.
- Whites, 51%, are more likely than African Americans, 37%, and Latinos, 39%, to think the quality of life in New York City has gotten worse.
- The proportion of whites who say the city’s quality of life has deteriorated has increased from 35%. And, there has been an 11 point increase in the proportion of African Americans and a 4% increase among Latinos who share this view.
- 42% of residents think the number of homeless, panhandlers, and mentally ill on the city’s streets have increased since de Blasio has become mayor. The same proportion, 42%, says the number has remained the same, and only 8% believe it has declined. Similar proportions of adults had these views in May.
- 60% of adults think the cleanliness of the subways has not changed since de Blasio became mayor. 15% say they are cleaner, and 15% report they are dirtier.
- Nearly six in ten residents, 59%, support the proposal to restrict costumed panhandlers in Times Square to designated areas. 32% oppose the plan.
Stop and Frisk Still Polarizing Issue
While 38% of residents want Mayor de Blasio to continue to reduce stop and frisk, 36% think the policy should revert to what it was during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. 16% think de Blasio should leave things the way they are now, and 10% are unsure.
About two-thirds of adults citywide have, at least, a fair amount of confidence in the New York City Police to keep them safe from violent crime.
- Nearly half of white residents, 49%, think stop and frisk should return to what it was during the Bloomberg years while 50% of African Americans and 42% of Latinos believe de Blasio should continue to reduce the policy. Still, 31% of Latinos and 24% of African Americans assert Bloomberg’s policy regarding stop and frisk should be reinstated.
- 66% of residents have either a great deal of confidence, 27%, or a fair amount of confidence, 39%, in the police to protect them from violent crime. This is up from 60% who had this view in the spring. 33% have either some confidence, 15%, or little confidence, 18%, in the NYPD to keep them safe.
- Whites, 82%, are more likely than African Americans, 59%, and Latinos, 50%, to have faith in the police to protect them. However, the proportion of African Americans with this view has increased from 49%. Latinos are little changed on this question.
- A majority of residents, 52%, supports drug treatment, not jail, for addicts who are repeat offenders and are convicted of a felony for drug dealing. 40% say these individuals should receive jail time.
De Blasio vs. Bloomberg
35% of city residents believe Mayor de Blasio is doing a worse job in office than former Mayor Bloomberg. One in four, 25%, says de Blasio is a better mayor than Bloomberg, and 35% believe there is little difference between the job performances of both mayors.
- A majority of whites, 56%, report de Blasio is a worse mayor than Bloomberg.
- Pluralities of African Americans, 45%, and Latinos, 40%, say de Blasio is doing about the same job as the former mayor in city hall.
Mayor de Blasio Bests Competition for 2017 Democratic Nomination
Mayor de Blasio currently does not face a formidable threat if he is challenged for his party’s nomination in 2017.
- If the 2017 Democratic primary for mayor were held today, de Blasio would receive 43% of the vote. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James each receive 10%. Nine percent are for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., 5% support Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and 4% are behind U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries. 20% of New York City Democrats are undecided.
- Among Bronx Democrats, Diaz leads de Blasio, 34% to 29%.
With just a little more than three weeks until Election Day, Democrat Bill de Blasio outpaces his Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, 67% to 23%, among likely voters in New York City including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate and those who voted by absentee ballot. Independence Party candidate Adolfo Carrion has the support of 2%. One percent supports another candidate while 7% are undecided.
POLL MUST BE SOURCED: The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll
“This is a very lopsided contest,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Joe Lhota hasn’t gotten any traction to offset the Democratic registration advantage in the city.”
When The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll last reported this question in September, de Blasio — 65% — was ahead of Lhota — 22% — by 43 percentage points among likely voters. Carrion received the support of 3%. One percent backed another candidate, and 9%, at that time, were undecided.
- Among Democrats who are likely to vote, 82% support de Blasio while 13% are for Lhota. One percent supports Carrion. Last month, 77% of Democrats backed de Blasio. 13% were behind Lhota, and 1% supported Carrion.
- Looking at likely Republican voters, 69% back Lhota. 16% are for de Blasio, and 1% supports Carrion. In September’s survey, 63% of Republicans were for Lhota compared with 25% for de Blasio. Five percent were behind Carrion.
- Among non-enrolled voters, de Blasio has the backing of 58%. Lhota garners 21%, and Carrion has 7%. In that previous survey, half of non-enrolled voters likely to cast a ballot — 50% — supported de Blasio compared with 24% for Lhota and 9% for Carrion.
Regardless of race, de Blasio has a wide lead over Lhota. Among white voters who are likely to participate on Election Day, 57% support de Blasio while 33% are for Lhota. In September, 50% of whites backed de Blasio while Lhota had the support of 37%. Among African American voters, de Blasio has 89% to 4% for Lhota. When The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll last reported this question, 86% of African American voters likely to cast a ballot supported de Blasio compared with 3% for Lhota. De Blasio has a 62 percentage point advantage over Lhota among Latinos who are likely to vote. Here, de Blasio receives 76% compared with 14% for Lhota. Last month, 74% of Latino voters likely to participate on Election Day were for de Blasio while 11% backed Lhota.
How strongly do likely voters with a candidate preference support their choice for mayor? 54% strongly support their pick while 36% are somewhat behind their candidate. Nine percent might vote differently, and 2% are unsure. When The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll last reported this question, 54% said they were firmly committed to their choice of candidate. 33% were somewhat behind their pick while 13% said they might change their minds before Election Day. One percent, at that time, was unsure.
Among likely voters who are for de Blasio, 56% strongly support him. This compares with 49% of Lhota’s backers who are firmly committed to him. This is little changed from September when 58% of de Blasio’s backers said they strongly supported him while 47% of Lhota’s supporters expressed the same level of support for him.
Looking at registered voters, de Blasio — 66% — outdistances Lhota — 20% — by 46 percentage points. Carrion has the support of 3% while 2% back another candidate. Nine percent are undecided. Last month, 63% of registered voters backed de Blasio while 20% supported Lhota. Four percent were for Carrion, and 2% backed another candidate. 12% were undecided.
What does the contest for mayor look like when all fifteen candidates on the ballot are taken into account? Little changes. Among likely voters in New York City including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate and those who voted by absentee ballot, 64% support de Blasio compared with 21% for Lhota and 2% for Carrion. Jack Hidary and Michael Greys each receives 1%. Erick Salgado, Anthony Gronowicz, James McMillian, Michael Sanchez, Randy Credico, Dan Fein, Joseph Melaragno, Sam Sloan, Michael Dilger, and Carl Person each garners less than one percent of the vote. One percent mentions another candidate, and 8% are undecided.
A Tale of Two Favorability Ratings
65% of registered voters have a favorable opinion of de Blasio while 23% have an unfavorable one. 12% have either never heard of him or are unsure how to rate him. In September, 65% thought highly of de Blasio while 19% had an unfavorable view of him. 16%, at that time, had either never heard of him or were unsure how to rate him.
It’s a different story when it comes to Lhota. 43% have an unfavorable impression of the candidate. 32% have a positive view of him, and a notable 25% have either never heard of him or are unsure how to rate him. There has been little change on this question since September when 41% had an unfavorable opinion of Lhota, and 29% said they had a favorable one. Three in ten — 30% — had either never heard of him or were unsure how to rate him.
De Blasio Tops Lhota on Issues and Qualities
How do de Blasio and Lhota stack up when it comes to campaign issues and candidate qualities? Among registered voters in New York City:
- Two out of three — 67% — think de Blasio is better able to make the city more affordable for the average family. 19% have this view of Lhota, and 14% are unsure. In September, 63% had this impression of de Blasio while 20% said Lhota could make New York City more affordable. 17% were unsure.
- When it comes to improving the city’s public schools, about two-thirds of registered voters — 65% — say de Blasio is the better candidate for the job. This compares with 19% who think Lhota is better able to improve education in the city. 16% are unsure. There has been little change on this question. Last month, 65% reported de Blasio was the candidate with the skills to improve education while 18% had this view of Lhota. 18%, at that time, were unsure.
- 63% of registered voters think de Blasio can better unite the city. This compares with 21% who think Lhota can bring New Yorkers together. 16% are unsure. In that previous Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll, 67% of voters considered de Blasio to be the candidate who could better unite the city. 19% thought Lhota was the candidate to do so, and 14% were unsure.
- There has also been little change on whether de Blasio or Lhota has the experience to manage the city. 53% believe de Blasio is the more seasoned candidate while 29% think Lhota has the experience to take the city’s helm. 18% are unsure. Last month, a majority — 54% — reported de Blasio had the experience to be mayor compared with 31% who had this impression of Lhota. 15%, then, were unsure.
- A majority of voters — 52% — say de Blasio is more likely to keep crime down while 31% say Lhota is more likely to do so. 17% are unsure. There has been an increase in the proportion of voters who say de Blasio will improve safety in the city. Last month, 44% said de Blasio was more likely to reduce crime. This compares with 35% who had this opinion of Lhota. 21%, at the time, were unsure.
- When it comes to the candidate who is better able to handle the city’s finances, 49% think de Blasio is more capable. This compares with 33% who say Lhota has the advantage on this issue. 19% are unsure. In The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist’s previous survey, 45% thought de Blasio was the better candidate to deal with the city’s finances while 35% had this opinion of Lhota. 20% were unsure.
The Ideologies of the Candidates
Among registered voters in New York City, 59% report de Blasio’s political ideology is in step. This compares with 24% who think he is too liberal and 3% who believe he is too conservative. 14% are unsure.
In September, 59% of registered voters said de Blasio’s ideology was about right. 22% reported he was too liberal while 5% thought he was too conservative. 14%, at the time, were unsure.
Among registered voters, 35% say Lhota’s political ideology is in line. 31% report he is too conservative, and 8% believe he is too liberal. 26% are unsure.
When The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll last reported this question, 32% of voters thought Lhota’s ideology was about right. 31% said he was too conservative while 7% reported he was too liberal. 29%, then, were unsure.
De Blasio’s Past Experiences in Cuba and Nicaragua Matter Little
Information surfaced that de Blasio went to Cuba on his honeymoon and supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Has this knowledge impacted voters’ impressions of de Blasio? More than seven in ten registered voters — 72% — say it makes no difference to them. 16% report it makes them less likely to vote for de Blasio while 8% think it makes them more likely to vote for him. Four percent are unsure.
Voters Divide about Lhota and National GOP
On most issues, 40% of registered voters think Lhota is not independent from the national Republican Party. 36% believe he is independent from the GOP, and 24% are unsure where he stands on most issues.
Among those who believe Lhota’s stance on the issues is tied to the national Republican Party, 39% are less likely to support him, and 54% say it doesn’t matter. Looking at those who say Lhota is independent from the national GOP platform, 42% would be more likely to vote for him, and 51% say it makes no difference to their vote.
Giuliani’s Backing Does Little to Help Lhota’s Chances
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani stumped for Lhota during the primary, but his nod does not bolster Lhota’s chances in the general election. While 31% say Giuliani’s endorsement makes them more likely to support Lhota, 47% report it makes them less likely to do so. 18% think it makes no difference to their vote, and 3% are unsure.
Last month, 29% reported Giuliani’s support made them more likely to vote for Lhota. A majority — 51% — said it made them less likely to vote for him, and 15% thought Giuliani’s endorsement made no difference to their vote. Five percent, at the time, were unsure.
A partisan divide exists. Most Republicans — 72% — say a Giuliani endorsement makes them more likely to vote for Lhota while 8% report it makes them less inclined to support him. Among Democrats, 57% think Giuliani’s backing makes them less likely to cast their ballot for Lhota. 22% disagree and believe it will make them more likely to do so. There is little consensus among non-enrolled voters citywide. 35% say Giuliani’s endorsement makes them more likely to vote for Lhota, and 42% report it makes them less likely to vote for him. 20% believe it makes no difference to their vote.
Departure from Bloomberg Era Policies Desired… Bloomberg Rating Steady
About two-thirds of registered voters in New York City — 66% — want to move the city in a different direction from the Bloomberg years. 29%, however, want the next mayor to continue the policies of Mayor Bloomberg. Six percent are unsure.
When The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll last reported this question, 68% wanted the next mayor to move the city in a different direction while 25% wanted him to stay the course. Seven percent, at the time, were unsure.
When it comes to the job Mayor Bloomberg is doing in office, 45% give the mayor high marks. This includes 12% who say the mayor is doing an excellent job and 33% who report he is doing a good one. 34% rate his performance as fair while 18% think he is performing poorly. Two percent are unsure.
Last month, a similar 42% gave Bloomberg kudos. 33% gave him average grades while 22% thought he fell short. Two percent, then, were unsure.
A City on Track?
When it comes to the direction of New York City, 46% of registered voters believe it is moving in the right direction, and 46% think it is traveling in the wrong one. Eight percent are unsure. When The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll last reported this question in September, voters also divided. 46% reported the city was on the right road, and 43% said it was on the wrong track. 11%, at the time, were unsure.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg caused a stir last week when he proposed the ban of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in establishments other than grocery and convenience stores. What do New York City residents think about the proposal? 53% of adults in the Big Apple believe it’s a bad idea while 42% say it is a good one. Six percent are unsure.
“Unfortunately for Mayor Bloomberg, New Yorkers find the glass to be half empty on his proposal to ban super-size drinks,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
By borough, the proposal is poorly received among residents in Queens and Staten Island and in Brooklyn. 58% of adults in Queens and Staten Island and 55% of those in Brooklyn say the ban is a bad idea. However, 52% of Manhattan residents think the proposal is a good one. In the Bronx, 49% say the plan is a bad idea while 44% think it’s a good one.
Even a majority of New Yorkers who want to lose weight — 51% — think the restriction is not a good idea.
And, while 42% of New York City adults report the idea is good health policy to fight the problem of obesity, 53% believe Bloomberg’s plan is an example of government going too far. Five percent are unsure.
Many New Yorkers think there’s little point to the ban. 52% state the proposal won’t help people watch their weight. 45% disagree and say it will, and 3% are unsure.
The proposal made quite a splash. 67% have seen or heard about it including 39% who have heard a great deal about it and 28% who know a good amount. 16% haven’t heard or seen very much about the plan, and 17% know nothing at all about it.
When it comes to New Yorkers’ own drinking habits, the ban would affect less than one in five adults. Just 17% of residents say they purchase a beverage larger than 16 ounces when they go out to eat, to the movies, or to a sporting event. This includes 6% who report they do so very often and 11% who say they often do. 31% state it’s rare they make such a purchase, and 52% say they never buy super-size drinks. Not surprisingly, 64% of those who purchase these large drinks think the mayor’s proposed ban is a bad idea.
Bloomberg Approval Rating at 45%
45% of registered voters in New York City believe Mayor Bloomberg is doing either an excellent or good job in office. This includes 9% who say he is doing an excellent one and 36% who report he is doing a good one. 29% rate Bloomberg’s job performance as fair while 20% think he is performing poorly. Six percent are unsure.
When NY1-Marist last asked this question in April, 44% gave the mayor high marks. 33% said he was doing an average job while 22% believed he fell short. Only 1%, at the time, was unsure.
- Among voters in the Bronx, 36% approve of Bloomberg’s job performance. This compares with 33% who thought this way in April.
- In Brooklyn, 42% praise the mayor while a similar proportion — 46% — previously gave Bloomberg a thumbs-up.
- 48% of registered voters in Queens and Staten Island believe the mayor is doing an excellent or good job in office while 44% had this opinion in April.
- Looking at Manhattan, 50% approve of Mayor Bloomberg’s job performance. This compares with 51% who shared this view in NY1-Marist’s April survey.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s job approval rating may have dipped in the aftermath of the December 26th blizzard, but his rating is now on the mend. More than four in ten registered voters citywide — 44% — approve of the job Bloomberg is doing in office. This includes 10% who say the mayor is doing an excellent job and 34% who report he is doing a good one. About three in ten — 29% — rate his performance as fair, and 26% say he is doing poorly. Just 1% is unsure.
When NY1-Marist last reported the mayor’s job approval rating in early January, 37% of voters gave the mayor high marks. 34% thought he was doing a fair job, and 26% believed he was performing poorly. Three percent were unsure.
“Mayor Bloomberg still lacks majority support, but seems to be weathering the storm,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
Mayor Bloomberg continues to struggle in the Bronx where 38% of voters currently approve of his job performance. Last month, 39% shared this view. And, although the mayor enjoys a bump in his approval rating in Brooklyn, his rating is still low. 38% of voters in Brooklyn rate Bloomberg’s job performance as above average while 24% thought that way in NY1-Marist’s last survey. In Manhattan, half approve of the mayor’s job performance while 55% had this opinion last month. Nearly half of voters in Queens and Staten Island — 49% — now give Bloomberg kudos while 36% did the same in NY1-Marist’s previous survey.
Majority See City as Back on Track
For the first time since October of 2009, a majority of voters think the city is headed in the right direction. 52% currently view the city as moving on the right path while 44% report it is traveling in the wrong direction. Four percent are unsure.
When NY1-Marist last asked this question in early January, a majority — 53% — said the Big Apple was moving in the wrong direction while 38% said it was on the correct road. Nine percent, at the time, were unsure.
Black Off to a Blue Start as Schools Chancellor
New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black has her work cut out for her. About one in five registered voters — 21% — think she is doing either an excellent or good job in her new role. Included here are just 2% who believe she is doing an excellent job and 19% who say she is doing a good one. Slightly more than one-third — 35% — rate her performance thus far as fair while 19% say she is doing poorly. A notable 26% have either never heard of her or are unsure how to rate her.
Most NYC Voters Want Changes to Union Wage Contracts
Most New York City voters are taking a tough stand on pay raises for union workers. Just 23% believe workers, including teachers and health care workers, should receive increases like the ones they have gotten in the past. Nearly four in ten — 38% — report wage increases should be based on merit or performance when their contracts come due, and an additional 27% want union workers to be paid a cost of living increase but nothing else. Eight percent don’t think they should get any increase in pay. Five percent are unsure.
The candidates are now in place for November’s race for mayor in New York City, and early numbers show the incumbent, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with 50% of registered voters compared with 39% for his Democratic challenger, New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson. 10% say they are unsure. In Marist’s July survey, 48% reported they backed Bloomberg, 35% supported Thompson, and 17% were unsure.
When looking at those all-important likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, Bloomberg has 52% to Thompson’s 43%.
How does the race shape up along party lines? Registered Republicans are overwhelmingly on Bloomberg’s side. 80% are backing Bloomberg compared with 17% for Thompson. Democrats, on the other hand, divide with 43% supporting Bloomberg and 46% behind Thompson. A majority of non-enrolled voters say Bloomberg is their man compared with one-third who want Thompson to take over the reins as mayor.
Looking at race, Thompson receives the support of 52% of African American voters compared with 37% for Bloomberg. Bloomberg garners the support of six in ten white voters, and Thompson receives the backing of 29%. Latino members of the electorate divide with 48% supporting Bloomberg and 43% in favor of Thompson.
Majority of Voters Strongly Support a Candidate…Most Predict Bloomberg Winner
A majority of registered voters in New York City say they strongly back their choice of candidate. 52% report this to be the case while 30% are just somewhat behind their pick. 17% might cast their ballot differently come Election Day.
Slightly more registered voters who say they support Bloomberg are firmly entrenched in his camp compared with those who report backing Thompson. 54% of those who favor Bloomberg are firmly committed to their candidate while 49% of Thompson’s supporters vow not to waver.
So, why are voters backing a specific candidate? 63% of registered voters report they like their candidate while 32% say they’re backing a candidate, because they dislike his competitor. The latter is the case for a majority of Thompson supporters — 58% — while only 12% of Bloomberg’s backers report they are voting for Bloomberg, because they are against Thompson.
And, Thompson certainly needs to prove to the electorate that he has a fighting chance to beat Mayor Bloomberg. Right now, 78% of registered voters in the city, regardless of whom they are planning to support, say they think Bloomberg will win a third term. This is an increase in the proportion of registered voters who thought this way in Marist’s July survey. Currently, even 62% of voters who support Bill Thompson share this view.
Campaign Sparks Voters’ Interest?
Although a majority within the electorate is tossing hefty support behind a candidate, just how engaged are voters in the race for mayor? 51% of registered voters describe the contest as boring, and 44% believe it to be interesting. Not surprisingly, interest increases among likely voters.
However, 53% of the overall electorate is keeping a close eye on the election. This includes 12% who report they are following the campaign very closely and 41% who are closely following it. 36% are not tracking the race much, and 11% admit to not being engaged in it at all.
Thompson Who? Unknown to 29%…About Six in Ten View Bloomberg Favorably
62% of New York City voters have a favorable impression of Mayor Bloomberg compared with 49% who view Thompson this way.
But, Thompson does not have as unfavorable an image as the mayor. Just 22% have a negative impression of Thompson compared with 32% for Bloomberg. And, fewer voters have yet to pass judgment on the comptroller. 29% of the electorate doesn’t know what to make of him while just 6% say the same about Bloomberg.
Unconcerned About Bloomberg’s Spending
How do voters react to Mayor Bloomberg’s personal campaign spending? 73% of registered voters say the amount of money Mayor Bloomberg is shelling out will not impact their vote. 21% think it will make them less likely to vote for him compared with just 6% who report they are more likely to do so. In Marist’s July survey, 65% said Bloomberg’s money would make no difference.
Setting Priorities: Jobs and Education Top List
Voters may not know who will be the city’s next mayor, but they do know the issues that should be at the top of his agenda. 25% think jobs should be the next mayor’s priority, and 20% believe it should be education. With 17%, economic development comes in third. Housing follows with 9%, and security from terrorism and taxes round out the top five with 6%
The Marist Poll’s Lee Miringoff says Bloomberg could face a competitive race, if his opponent plays his cards right:
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg digs in to square off against New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson in the race for New York City mayor, how do voters think Michael Bloomberg is doing in office? 59% of registered voters citywide report Bloomberg is doing either an excellent or good job as mayor. Just 11% report he is doing poorly. This is similar to the job approval rating — 58% — Mr. Bloomberg received in July.
Bloomberg’s positive rating crosses party lines. However, there has been some movement since Marist last asked this question. 69% of Republicans currently give the mayor high marks compared with 62% two months ago. While his rating has improved among this group, it has dipped among non-enrolled voters with 56% approving of Bloomberg’s performance now and 65% saying the same in July. As for Democrats, 59% currently look well on the mayor’s job. 56% thought so when last asked.
Overall, does the electorate think the city is headed in the right direction? 54% of registered voters say, “Yes,” while 38% disagree. These proportions are little changed since Marist last asked this question in July.
At Issue: Bloomberg’s Strengths and Weaknesses
Where do voters think Mayor Bloomberg excels, and where do they believe he needs improvement? The electorate in the Big Apple says he’s done the best on education and economic development. 26% and 23%, respectively, believe this to be true. With 14%, crime comes in a distant third, and security against terrorism follows closely behind with 11%. 17% believe the mayor has done the best on other issues.
As for where Bloomberg needs some work, there is little consensus among the electorate. 15% believe the mayor has done the worst on housing. 14% say transportation is his Achilles’ heel, and similar proportions sound off about taxes — 13%, poverty — 12%, and education — 12%. 26% cite other issues as his weakest.
Jay DeDapper is a veteran television political reporter who has covered New York politics for more than a decade. In an interview with the Marist Poll’s John Sparks, DeDapper considers the matchup between New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Democratic challenger Bill Thompson, and he discusses the impact of the $36 million the mayor has spent on his re-election campaign.
Listen to the Interview, Part 1:
Jay, back in July, 51% of registered voters in New York City told The Marist Poll it was time to oust Mayor Michael Bloomberg from office and elect someone else. Now in that same poll, Bloomberg led Bill Thompson 48% to 35%. Do you sense that, as we get closer to the general election, that the Mayor’s pulling away and widening his lead?
I think there’s a limit to how much of a lead that he can get, even though he’s not a Republican, a registered Republican anymore. He’s not registered in any party. He’s created his own party to run, and he’s running on the independent line. I think that in a city that this is overwhelmingly Democratic, there is a limit to how many votes anybody can get that’s not on the Democratic line. That being said, he is widely seen, and the Marist Poll has shown this, previous Marist Polls have shown this, he’s widely seen to be politically independent and not really a Democrat or a Republican, and I think that appeals to a lot of people. So, I think his wide lead that he has now, and it is sizeable, I don’t think it’s going to grow much more. I think that there is a limit to how wide a lead that he can get in this race.
Now you mentioned he’s an independent. He’s also independently wealthy. He spent a reported $36 million on getting re-elected. Is it the money that makes this an insurmountable race for Bill Thompson?
Well, money is always important and he spent — Mike Bloomberg spent $70 some odd million for the first time around. He spent $80 some odd million last time. There’s been talk that he’d spend $100 million by the time all the final checks are cut in this election, and that’s a huge disadvantage for Bill Thompson. Bill Thompson is participating in the public finance system in New York City, which is pretty progressive. It’s one of the most advanced in the country, but it doesn’t account for people who spend all of their own money, and there’s kind of no way to account for that under the law right now. So, it’s a huge disadvantage for Bill Thompson. But, to say that it’s only money, I think misses a point, and that is that there have been lots of candidates with a lot of money that have lost races. In fact, until Mike Bloomberg came along, the rule was you could spend — that super rich people could spend all the money they wanted and didn’t have a very good chance of winning election, all other things being equal. All other things are not equal in this case. Bill Thompson has not been an aggressive, an assertive candidate. He has had fewer public events, campaign events, than Mike Bloomberg, and if you’re the guy who is the underdog in the money race, then you’ve got to out-hustle the guy who’s got all the money. Bill Thompson isn’t out-hustling anybody right now.
So, what would it take for Thompson to win in November?
Listen to Part 2:
He would have to become a different candidate. New York … I think New Yorkers, and you look back at the mayor’s races and the mayors that have been elected in the past, New York has a long history of electing characters. There’s, of course, Fiorello La Guardia. There was Ed Koch. There was Rudy Giuliani. Lindsay was in his own way a character. And, in between these characters, there have often been kind of quiet technocratic kind of people. Abe Beame was one. You could argue that Dave Dinkins was. He certainly wasn’t much of a character. He was historic, but he wasn’t much of a character. Mike Bloomberg has turned into a character. As much as he was kind of a colorless billionaire when he first ran, he’s turned into a bit of a character, a little bit a hottie [sic]. The Marist Poll has shown over the years that people don’t really like his attitude. They don’t think he relates to them or that he understands their concerns, but at the end of the day, he’s got a character, and they think he does a pretty good job. Bill Thompson is not a character. He is as colorless as you can get, and he hasn’t demonstrated any knack for becoming a character in people’s minds. In the very short period between now and election day, Bill Thompson would have to become a different person. That maybe is something he can do. Candidates have done that in the past, but he’d have to become a different person.
I was going to follow-up and ask–does he really have enough time to accomplish that?
I think maybe the way I’d like to answer that is: Could a candidate in this amount of time accomplish what has to be accomplished? And, I think in the hypothetical, yes. Bill Thompson is going to have to go from zero to 60 tomorrow to be able to pull this off.
I’m curious about something else. Is Governor Paterson hurting Bill Thompson’s chances to be elected?
Listen to Part 3:
I don’t think there’s any evidence of that. Paterson has plenty of his own problems, and that’s a whole other story. He’s gotten tremendously high negatives and a real, real problem with trying to get re-elected next year. But, I don’t think there’s any link in voters’ minds between Bill Thompson and David Paterson. They haven’t appeared together. They aren’t particularly close. Certainly, David Paterson’s not going to come and campaign for Bill Thompson, because Bill Thompson probably doesn’t want David Paterson to come and campaign for him. So, I don’t think that’s his problem. I mean Bill Thompson is not tainted by the leading Democrat in the state having low poll numbers. Bill Thompson is tainted by the fact that he simply is not running a campaign so far that has energy, ideas, attitude, assertiveness, aggressiveness, fire in the belly. There’s no fire in the belly.
Hindsight’s 20/20. Did Anthony Weiner make a mistake by dropping out?
That’s a hard question. I mean, I think most people, most political analysts, myself included, believe that Anthony Weiner had a much better shot at winning — at beating Mike Bloomberg than Bill Thompson did. But, could he have beaten him? I don’t know, and Anthony Weiner in a purely political calculation, I think, looked at the map and said, “Look, I can run again in four years, and I will have been out there in two different cycles. I will have a lot of name recognition. I will be able to continue to raise issues and get free media and talk, and Mike Bloomberg won’t be running again in four years, and I won’t have to face his $80 million or whatever it’s going to be.” I think that Weiner, I’m sure, thinks in his own mind that he made the right choice because he’s a young guy, and he’s looking at the long run. He wasn’t looking at the short-term advantage. It would’ve been a tough race. It would’ve been … I think it would be a much competitive race if it was Anthony Weiner versus Mike Bloomberg than it is shaping up to be with Bill Thompson versus Mike Bloomberg.
You addressed what Bill Thompson would have to do in order to prevail in November, but I want to ask you: What must Mike Bloomberg do to hold onto his lead and to win in November?
Listen to Part 4:
Bloomberg has real vulnerabilities, and The Marist Poll, this one and previous ones have pointed it out, and I’ve alluded to at least one of them, people, New Yorkers, the average New Yorker doesn’t think that he understands them nor is particularly concerned about what affects them. He is seen as a fairly aloof kind of sarcastic, not necessarily very nice rich guy, but he’s also seen as someone who is effective. And, in this case and in this economy, effectiveness seems to trump likability, at least so far, at least according to the polls. He has to work on the likability thing though because the danger is that he is seen as even more arrogant than he’s already seen if he simply goes forward assuming that he is going to win because he’s the right guy for the right time, and he’s got the track record to do it. So, I think you are going to see that. I think you are going to see the campaign working on trying to make Mike Bloomberg a little less of the out-of-touch billionaire and a little more of the I may not feel your pain, but at least I understand it billionaire.
Jay, do you think there’s any lingering resentment toward Bloomberg over the third term?
I think that if you polled people, and you asked them that question specifically, and the further away we get it from it, it probably diminishes, but there has always been a lot of lingering resentment, at least in the polls that I’ve seen since this — since the term limits went through. But even at the time that the term limit debate was at its hottest, and the vast majority of New Yorkers said, “We don’t think the term limits should be overturned,” when those same voters were asked: “Well do you think Mike Bloomberg deserves a third term?” almost the same majority who were opposed to overturning term limits said: “Well, yeah, we think Mike Bloomberg should get a chance at a third term.” So, there’s a contradiction in voters’ minds, and I don’t think this has hurt him. I don’t think that whatever lingering resentment there is, I don’t think it’s enough to drive his supporters into the arms of Bill Thompson right now, and Bill hasn’t done a particularly effective job of stoking that resentment. It’s not an issue we’ve heard very much about in the last three months, and if you can’t make that an issue during the slow summer months, the dog days of August, you’re not going to make it an issue in October I don’t think.
I would think in the short time between the primary and the general that he’s going to really have to mount up an attack on the mayor. Having said that, do you think that there’s any chance in that short period of time that the mayor will stumble?
Listen to Part 5:
There is. The mayor has shown over his eight years in office a tin ear to the perceptions of him. One of the most egregious cases was when a reporter in a wheelchair in the front row of a news conference inadvertently, or it was thought, had inadvertently played back a little piece of his tape recorder and it sounded like — it was a noise that interrupted the on-going press conference. And, the mayor castigated him in terms that were just nasty. It turned out it wasn’t even this guy’s tape recorder, and it took the mayor awhile to apologize. That kind of thing, and it got some attention in the press, that kind of thing in the heat and the glare of an election battle in the really hot campaigning over the last three or four weeks of campaigning, a talented opponent could take that and really hurt the mayor with it, with that kind of thing. The mayor is capable of that kind of gaffe. He’s demonstrated it repeatedly, and he is certain enough of his own success that his closest advisors are not going to keep him — be able to keep him from making a gaffe like that if it’s going to happen. The question would be: If a gaffe like that happens, would Bill Thompson be able to take advantage of it? That’s the bigger question to me than will the mayor make a gaffe.
Do you think that the Democrats could’ve fielded a more formidable opponent?
Yes. Anthony Weiner, the polls showed repeatedly, would’ve been a more formidable opponent, and clearly, here’s a guy who knows how to get free media. He learned at the feet of Chuck Schumer, the king of free media. He knows how to get attention. He knows how to throw a punch. He knows how to appeal to the resentment about the term limits. He knows how to appeal to the anger there is, especially among ethnic blue-collar workers about the state of the economy and playing outer borough against Manhattan. He knows how do that, and that’s how you’re going to win. That’s how you’re going to beat Mike Bloomberg. Not that it would be an easy thing to do, but he would’ve been a formidable candidate. He was the only name that was out there mentioned that was serious. People talked about Bill Clinton running or something like that. I mean, yeah, Bill Clinton probably would’ve been a formidable candidate, but in terms of the realistic possible candidates, they could’ve fielded someone better, and his name is Anthony Weiner.
Jay, it’s always interesting to talk about your observations. You’ve covered New York politics for well beyond a decade. Anything else that you’d like to comment on the mayor’s race?
Listen to Part 6:
I think what’s probably most interesting is this notion, and I’ve alluded to it, but this notion of effectiveness versus likability, and Rudy Giuliani, to some degree, succeeded in the same way. I remember in 1997, we went out to an African American middle class neighborhood in Queens, St. Albans, after Rudy Giuliani was re-elected overwhelmingly. Rudy Giuliani had had a terrible relationship with the African American community from … really from 1989 on … but from 1993 his election on … terrible relationship. He … I don’t recall if he came very close to winning, or he did win in St. Albans. And, when we talked to people on the street: why? They all said they didn’t like him, but crime was down. The streets were safer. Things were better. And, I think, at the end of the day, that voters, as much as we talk about how much voters vote just about who they like, who would they most like in their living room, when you’re talking about incumbency, effectiveness trumps likability, and I think there’s case-after-case of that, at least in New York City, where that is true. And, Mike Bloomberg is not very well liked, but he is well respected, and that, in this year with this economy, with the troubles facing the city, is an advantage that will be very difficult for Bill Thompson to overcome.
Although a majority of registered voters in New York City — 59% — think Mayor Michael Bloomberg is doing either an excellent or good job in office, his approval rating has dropped significantly. This is the first time since 2005 that his job performance rating has dipped into the 50 percent range. In a Marist Poll conducted in August 2005, 53% of the city’s voters thought Mayor Bloomberg was doing well in his position. Bloomberg’s approval rating has fallen since last month when 68% of the electorate thought Bloomberg was doing an above average job. Currently, Bloomberg is far from perfect in the eyes of 39% of voters. 28% report his job as fair while 11% say he is performing poorly as mayor.
New Yorkers Favor Term Limits…But, Candidate Bloomberg Might Be a Game Changer: Registered voters in New York City support term limits for their elected officials. 50% of New York City’s electorate favors the current law while 35% oppose the restrictions on officials seeking re-election after a second term. However, when asked specifically if Mayor Michael Bloomberg should be allowed to seek a third term, more voters want to change the law. Yet, the issue remains controversial. In this case, 46% of New Yorkers report they would want the mayor to be permitted to run for another term. 44% of registered voters in the five boroughs say, “No way.” 10% citywide haven’t made up their minds.
Michael Bloomberg continues to receive good reviews as mayor: 66% of New York City voters rate the job Mayor Bloomberg is doing as excellent or good. 22% of city voters rate the mayor’s job performance as excellent, 44% as good, 25% as fair, and 6% as poor. His approval rating is unchanged from a similar poll conducted last July when Mayor Bloomberg received his highest combined excellent and good score.