Scene from movie Dazed & confused of students standing, sitting, and laying on and inside an orange convertible car

We Should Hang Out More

Movies often serve as perfect time capsules, offering snapshots of what life was like in an earlier time. Take Dazed and Confused. The movie is set in late seventies Texas and focuses on groups of ... Read Now >


3/30: What Is a Yankees Fan to Do?

By Stephanie Calvano

Play ball!!  I’ve waited through a very long, cold winter to hear those words.  And now it’s here, it’s here … it’s finally here!  It’s baseball season!  Although the 2011 baseball season is still in its infancy, in New York, it’s never too soon to talk about the postseason.  In a recent New York City Marist Poll, we asked Yankees and Mets fans who they would root for in the most unfortunate World Series matchups.  Mets fans were asked who they would root for if the Yankees were playing the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.  61% of New York City Mets fans said they would keep it in the New York family and cheer on the Yankees, and 34% would support the Phillies.  I wonder if this was actually the case in 2009?!?  When asked who they would root for if the Mets were playing the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, Yankees fans were a little kinder to their cross-town rivals.  83% of New York City Yankees fans said they would be in the Mets corner, while 14% said they would rally behind the BoSox.

Stephanie Calvano

As a Yankees fan, the thought of this hypothetical matchup put my stomach in knots and left me wondering what I would do if this horror actually came to pass.  After much thought and rationalization, I still can’t definitely say what I would do.  Initially, I thought I would support the Mets over the Red Sox.  If my New York team didn’t make it to the World Series, why not root for another New York team?  But, upon further reflection I started digging a little deeper.  In order for the Red Sox to advance to the postseason and ultimately the World Series, they would have had to have a better season than the Yankees.  So, if the Sox won the World Series, at least I would know that my Bombers were beaten by the best.  It falls under the same logic that had me rooting for the Packers in the Super Bowl.  They beat the Giants and it made me feel better about Big Blue’s demise to know it was the Super Bowl Champs that put the brakes on their postseason chances.  This kind of thinking also made me a fan of the Duke women’s basketball team after they eliminated the Marist Red Foxes from the 2011 NCAA tournament in a close contest.

So, what’s my conclusion?  The answer is “I don’t know.”  All I can hope for is that it’s a decision I never have to make.  And, if that World Series matchup does ever happen, check back with me … I might be rooting for the New York Red Sox or the Boston Mets!

Until then … happy baseball season!

3/30: Media Advisory — Dyson Foundation/Marist Poll Announces: “Striking a Balance: New Yorkers Speak Out on Rightsizing Local Government”

For media inquiries and technical assistance:

The Marist Poll, 845-575-5050

Lee M. Miringoff

Mary Azzoli

The Dyson Foundation

Diana M. Gurieva, 845-790-6312

Steve Densmore, 845-234-8713

What: Faced with high taxes, rising costs, and declining financial support from state and federal governments, how can local governments still provide essential services?  Is rightsizing local government the answer?

Funded by the Dyson Foundation and conducted by the Marist Poll, this survey of 4,500 New York State residents takes an in-depth look at New York State, as a whole, and nine regions — the Capital Region, the Adirondacks, Western New York, the Finger Lakes, Central New York, the Mid-Hudson Valley, the Lower Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island.  The study answers:

  • Where do New Yorkers stand on the issue of local government consolidation?
  • What are the arguments for and against consolidation?
  • Which services – schools, police, fire, parks, water, sewage, public transportation, and prisons — do New Yorkers support or oppose for consolidation?

Who: Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, Robert R. Dyson, President of the Dyson Foundation, and Diana M. Gurieva, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Dyson Foundation

When: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 12 p.m.

Where: LCA Press Room, the Legislative Office Building in Albany

Remote audio and video opportunities are also available. Lee M. Miringoff and a representative from the Dyson Foundation will conduct a telephone conference call immediately following the press conference at 1:30 p.m. A remote satellite video tour will also be held beginning at 2:30 p.m. Satellite interviews must be booked by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, 2011. To book a satellite interview or receive conference call information, call Mary Azzoli, Director of Interactive Media Systems at the Marist Poll, at 845-575-5050.

3/16: An Overdue Visit to “the Garden”

By Dr. Lee M. Miringoff

This week I found myself at Madison Square Garden checking out Ranger Blue.  They didn’t disappoint with a 6 to 3 win over the expansion team (I guess I’m a little too much of a traditionalist) New York Islanders.  “Gooooaaallll… Hey, Hey, Hey!”  Rangers fans know what this means.  I was able to follow most of the action but didn’t actually see the goal cross the crease until the score reached 4 to 2.

My one and only hockey game prior to last night was March 21, 1965, a mere 46 years ago.  No one ever accused me of being a rabid hockey fan.  But, that game was memorable.  You can make up your own version of the old joke “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.”  Because what I saw back then, didn’t much resemble a hockey game.  The Toronto Maple Leafs trounced the hometown Rangers 10-1.  I recalled the score being 11-0, but memory clearly plays tricks on you with the passage of time.  Was this the biggest trouncing in Ranger history?

Ok, maybe hockey isn’t in my blood.  My visits to MSG over the years have been for several political conventions where the outcome is pretty much known in advance or for competitive events, like the Westminster Dog Show, where the contestants have more bark than bite.  Will last night’s victory start a trend not only for this wayward hockey fan but for this potentially play-off bound team?  Will the Rangers hoist the Stanley Cup this year at MSG as others have become their political party’s nominee or won Best in Show?  Will I ever attend a Knicks’ game?

3/9: Is Good, Good Enough?

By Barbara Carvalho

The release of the latest national job numbers has been met with cautious optimism from those waiting for momentum in the economic recovery.  Boosted by a jump in private sector hiring, unemployment has fallen below 9% for the first time in memory.  Is it possible these new numbers represent an end to what has been largely a jobless recovery so far?

Although “growth” has replaced “decline” in the economist’s lexicon, you don’t have to be a student of Tom Lehrer’s new math to see that the numbers don’t yet exactly add up to a healthy economy.  First, nearly 14 million Americans are actively, but unsuccessfully, seeking work.  That’s still way too high.

Second, when you include people working part-time and those thought to be so discouraged to have stopped looking for work, the unemployment rate is still hovering around 16%.  No wonder it doesn’t feel like the nation has sufficiently clawed its way out of the economic slump.

Finally, if you include a variety of reasons for Americans staying on the work force side lines, overall, less than two-thirds of adults are considered to be in the work force.  Bottom line: you aren’t counted as unemployed if you aren’t in the work force.  Anyway you tally the equation, this represents the lowest worker participation rate in more than two decades.

Marist Poll trend data in recent months has shown that the recession remains a reality in the minds of most Americans although there has been a drop in the percentage who thinks so.  Also, a majority believe that the worst for the economy is now behind us.  To the degree that momentum counts in decisions about hiring and spending, the hope for continued improvement in the economy is there.  So, is the view that we still have a long way to go.

3/9: Now, Why Didn’t I Think of That

By Dr. Lee M. Miringoff

I caught a piece in Sunday’s (3/6/11) New York Times about the Gallup Poll’s statistical profile of the happiest person in America.  Gallup has been collecting daily data on President Obama’s approval rating and much more, too.  (I doubt Obama is the happiest man in America, but being President is a good gig nonetheless).

miringoff-caricature-430Well, it turns out that the happiest person is tall, Asian-American, an observant Jew, over 65 years old, married, has children, lives in Hawaii, has his own business, and a six-figure income.  And, if you haven’t had your fill of kosher egg rolls yet, they actually discovered Alvin Wong who is a perfect match!  (The picture in The New York Times shows him with a broad smile.  What else?)

At the Marist Poll, we also enjoy the fun side of polling.  From our annual New Year’s resolution poll, to Americans’ picking their most annoying word or phrase… whatever… Our longest running gag poll strikes close to home.  For more than two decades, we have asked Americans whether they consider my age to be young, middle-aged, or old?  How better to find out what the nation thinks of my advancing age.

So far, so good.  People think someone born in 1951 is middle aged.  The cross tabs are even more positive especially among those who are 65 years of age or older.  How’s that for pollster spin!

But, May 3rd is just around the corner and so is the big 6-0.  I fear the numbers are likely to shift dramatically despite Alvin Wong’s happiness at 69.

In the meantime, hat’s off to my friends at Gallup for cushioning the blow.

3/2: Does Senator Thune’s Announcement Really Shake up the GOP Field?

By Dr. Lee M. Miringoff

Last week, South Dakota’s junior senator, John Thune, announced he would not seek the GOP nod for president in 2012.  For someone who is barely an asterisk in the extremely early pre-election polls, this “news” created more than just a ripple.  No one was really expecting Thune to take this wire to wire.  No one was referencing failed South Dakotan 1972 Democratic candidate George McGovern with an “as South Dakota goes, so goes the nation.”  And, certainly, no one was racing up to Mt. Rushmore to take measurements for further excavation.

miringoff-caricature-430A couple of points on the reasons for the “big splash:”  First, the GOP field is so poorly formed at this point that it is even difficult to draw the top tier/second tier demarcations that are typical a year before the primary/caucus season.  Now, Thune’s withdrawal is seen as a boost to the chances of a fellow low recognition 2012 wannabee … Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.  They appeal to a similar conservative constituency within GOP circles.  But, how thinly can you dissect a blip on the radar screen anyway?

Second, political pundits gravitated to a potentially far bigger historical happening when Thune backed off.  For the first time since 1904, according to Politico, a sitting member of Congress will not be among the crop of candidates seeking the presidency.  And, for the first time in modern political history, according to The Washington Post, the presidential campaign will commence without a sitting U.S. senator in the field. (Where’s Senator DeMint when you really need him?)

Despite enjoying a more than modest bank account, Thune has to be worried (even if he is thinking about 2016) that Capitol Hill tenants often run for president but almost as often fail to win.  Before 2008, when Obama and McCain were both sitting senators (I guess one of them had to win), the previous victorious sitting senator was John F. Kennedy.  Before him, you need to rewind to Warren G. Harding.

I’m sure campaign 2012 will have more interesting moments than what Senator Thune shared with the political community.  But, with Thune’s decision the winnowing has begun even before the field has formed.

2/4: Any Way You Crunch the Numbers…

By Dr. Lee M. Miringoff

Andrew Cuomo is off to a good start as New York’s Governor.  According to the latest Marist Poll, he has a 71% favorability rating and his job performance stands at 48%.  This translates into most New York voters telling us they like Cuomo and nearly half think, after just one month in office, that he’s doing an excellent or good job.


Andrew Cuomo’s numbers compare well to Marist’s first poll on former Governors Pataki, Spitzer, and Paterson.   Only former Governor Mario Cuomo gives the current Governor Cuomo a run for his money.

Like father, like son.  Despite each one’s popularity, there is a big difference in approach between Cuomo I and Cuomo II.  Mario Cuomo used to wax eloquent about the poetry of running and the prose of governing.  By bridging the gap between his campaign and his administration, Andrew Cuomo made the campaign an investment in political capital that will pay dividends as governor.  For Andrew Cuomo, it’s all prose…. Well, with maybe just a touch of budget passion.

And, so far, it’s paying off.  Although a majority of New York voters still think the state is headed in the wrong direction, the number who thinks it’s on track in the latest Marist Poll has grown from 18% in October to 42%.  Cuomo scores high on leadership, representing all regions of the state, and caring about New Yorkers.  Perhaps, most significantly, a majority thinks he’s fulfilling campaign promises.

The real test for Governor Cuomo will be in the bruising budget battle to come.  58% express confidence in Cuomo’s ability to address the budget.  68% are not confident the state legislature can do the same.

Included in Cuomo’s current approval rating is 19% who are “unsure” about his job performance.   Does he win these “it’s too early to tell’ voters over in the next few months by resolving the fiscal mess?  His political future and, more importantly, New York’s future will depend upon the answer.  To be continued.

2/4: OK, Class, When’s an Approval Rating an Approval Rating?

By Barbara Carvalho

The quick answer is: when you ask about the approval rating of an elected official.  Unfortunately, that clarity was missing in a slew of recent polls on New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo and the start of his term in office.


First, Siena College released the findings of a statewide poll which measured Cuomo’s approval rating at 44% but also reported his favorability rating at 70%.  Unfortunately, media coverage of their poll results often twisted the two scores.  Approval rating deals with job performance.  Favorability deals with likeability.  They are not synonymous.

Think back to President Reagan who was well-liked (favorability rating) but typically received lower marks for his job performance (approval rating).  For President Clinton, the opposite was the case.  Higher approval ratings on the job he was doing as president but lower favorability scores tapping into his personal conduct.  So far, President Obama’s favorability numbers have consistently been higher than his approval rating.

Let’s return to the topic at hand and New York’s governor.   Have you done your reading assignment?  Next up was the Quinnipiac University poll which opted out of an approval rating altogether (it was too soon, they claimed) and only asked about Cuomo’s favorability.  But even on Cuomo’s favorability, Quinnipiac found a very different result than Siena … 47% compared to 70%.

Why?  Do I always have to see the same hands?  Let’s turn the page to Lesson #2 in survey research.  Question wording matters.  You get what you ask for.  Quinnipiac asked: “Is your opinion of Governor Andrew Cuomo favorable, unfavorable, or haven’t you heard enough about him?”  Siena asked “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion about Andrew Cuomo?”   A subtle distinction perhaps, but one that makes for a difference in the poll numbers.   36% opted for the Quinnipiac choice “or haven’t you heard enough about him?”   This substantially “reduced” the number of respondents only going for the positive or negative options.  Quinnipiac also included in their calculations the 6% who refused to answer the question.  I’ll offer that as an extra credit assignment if you want to comment on whether that makes good survey sense (or not).

Then finally, there was the tie-breaker poll from Marist.  We found Cuomo’s approval rating at 48% and his favorability at 71%, similar to what Siena found.  The question wording was similar, too.

These polls matter because they all address the important question of whether Governor Cuomo is off to a good start.  He is.  Voters like him (71%).  A greater proportion of New Yorkers also give him a thumbs-up on his first weeks as governor than did for his most recent predecessors.  The answer isn’t lost on the political community, especially the state legislature.

Hope this helps to clear up the confusion.  If there are no other questions, class dismissed.

1/28: The Son Also Rises…

By Dr. Lee M. Miringoff

Lately the signs of the galaxy have undergone change.  Not far from MariosCosmos, once a very bright star on the horizon, the glistening SonofCosmos has come into view.  Somewhat similar in appearance, sonar cannot detect any noticeable difference in sound.  To find SonofCosmos, locate the lights above Albany and set your gaze slightly to the right.


SonofCosmos’ return to the Empirous constellation followed his having been active not too long ago in the orbit of Clintonia.  The rediscovery of SonofCosmos in Empirous was somewhat serendipitous given SonofCosmos’ placement in the shadows of Planet 9.  But, Planet 9 wilted like a Mayflower, passing the controls of Albany to his co-pilot.  Soon thereafter, the skies parted and SonofCosmos, like MariosCosmos before him, became the brightest light in the constellation.

Will his star shine throughout the 62 counties of Empirous?  Will he again take flight when the stars realign in 2016? Will his spacecraft, leave the Albany tarmac and head to the distant granite planet? Keep your telescopes fixed towards the northern poll to detect any future changes in the astrological signs.

1/25: Welcome to the World of Sports Signings!

If ever there was a blank slate, I was one.

azzoli-caricature-445It was June of 2009, and I found myself amid a crowd of basketball fans at my local shopping mall.  No, there wasn’t a sale at Modell’s, Champs, Foot Locker, or any other sporting goods store.  We were gathered for an autograph signing by former New York Knicks players John Starks and Anthony Mason.

It was my first sports signing in more than 20 years.  And, trust me.  My name was never synonymous with this type of event.  Don’t get me wrong, I love sports!  As a kid, I was thrilled to meet New York Mets Howard Johnson, Terry Leach, and Mackey Sasser at baseball card shows at my elementary school.  As an adult, though, attending these events never really appealed to me.  But, all that changed.

Shortly after meeting my, now, fiancé, I discovered the one addictive part of his personality — his love of collecting sports memorabilia.  Enamored by the stories of those he had met and the pieces he had in his collection, I became intrigued and was a willing participant in the next signing.  To put it simply, I thought it was cool!  I mean, I could hold my own.  I have those childhood baseball card shows under my belt.  I thought I knew what was in store.  Boy, was I wrong.

Soon, I realized this wasn’t just a hobby, it was a whole world (not to mention an industry) with its own set of rules populated by some of the most loyal fans around.  Here’s a taste of what I learned:
•    Collect unique items (e.g. a ball signed by the pitcher and catcher of a perfect game)
•    Without an inscription, it’s really not worth it
•    Inscriptions are extra
•    Prices vary based upon the athlete
•    Different fees exist for different items (balls, flats, jerseys, etc.)
•    16×20 photos must be purchased sparingly (They take up too much wall space and should be reserved for only the most exciting of action shots.)
•    When framing memorabilia, do so with UV protected glass
•    The thrill of meeting some of the greats never dies

Mays, Berra, Palmer, Ripken, Henderson, Seaver, Gooden… Needless to say, I am hooked.  Would I call myself one of the 18% of Americanswho told the Marist Poll they would prefer an athlete’s autograph over, say, the president’s?  Probably not.  But, I will say the adrenaline rush of meeting an athlete whom you’ve watched, and in many cases, admired over the years, is incredible!