March 3, 2010
3/3: GOP Voters More Eager for 2010 Elections…Incumbents Without Majority Support
Nearly seven in ten registered voters in New York State — 68% — are enthusiastic about voting in this fall’s statewide elections. This includes 27% of voters who report they are very enthusiastic and 41% who are somewhat enthusiastic about casting their ballot. 20%, however, are not too enthusiastic, and 11% report they are not enthusiastic at all.
This eager sentiment is more prevalent among Republican voters than Democrats. 75% of the state’s GOP express some degree of enthusiasm. Included here are 34% who are very enthusiastic and 41% who are somewhat enthusiastic. Looking at Democrats, 68% are eager. This includes 25% who are very enthusiastic and 43% who are somewhat enthusiastic. 57% of non-enrolled voters are energized about the elections with 20% reporting they are very enthusiastic and 37% saying they are somewhat enthusiastic.
What does this enthusiasm mean for November’s elections? Currently, state senators and members of the Assembly fail to achieve majority support from voters. 48% report they plan to vote for their current state senator while 37% are looking to another candidate. 15% are unsure. Little has changed from when Marist last asked this question in early February when 46% said they would support their current state senator, and 41% wanted a change. 13% were unsure.
“This is shaping up as a ‘send the message’ electorate, and Republicans are screaming louder than Democrats at the moment,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Incumbents beware.”
But, what a difference a decade or two makes! In 1994, Marist asked New York State voters this question, and at that time, 51% wanted to re-elect their state senator while 27% did not. 22% were unsure. Four years earlier, 56% of the electorate told The Marist Poll they planned to support their current senator. 18% wanted a change, and 26% were unsure.
Members of the Assembly facing re-election don’t fare any better. 47% of voters plan to vote for their incumbent. 37% say they are going to vote for someone else. 16% are unsure. In Marist’s February survey, 44% reported they were going to cast their ballot for their current member of the Assembly. 41% said they would vote for someone else. And, 15%, at that time, were not sure.
And, when looking at those who are the most eager to vote, the picture for incumbents becomes even more troublesome. This mobilized electorate divides about whether current state senators should remain in office, and nearly half of these voters — 48% — prefer a new representative in the Assembly.
So, when entering the voting booth, how much does a candidate’s party affiliation matter? If the elections for New York State Senate were held today, 53% of registered voters say they would vote for the Democratic candidate while 37% would support the Republican. 4% would back neither, and 6% are unsure. When it comes to the Assembly, the proportions are similar with 53% reporting they would cast their ballot for the Democrat and 37% backing the Republican. 3% say neither party’s candidate, and 7% are unsure.
Table: Level of Voters’ Enthusiasm
Table: 2010 Election for New York State Senator
Table: 2010 Election for New York State Assembly
Table: Party Preference for New York State Senator
Table: Party Preference for New York State Assembly
Nearly Half of Voters Think Poorly of Job Done By State Senate and Assembly
49% of voters think the New York State Senate is performing poorly while just 16% think it is doing either an excellent or good job. One-third say it is doing fairly well. The State Senate has failed to improve people’s perception of its job performance. In Marist’s early February poll, similar proportions of the electorate held these views.
As for the Assembly, the news isn’t better. 45% of the electorate thinks the Assembly is failing in its duties while 17% believe it is doing a stand-up job. More than one-third — 35% — say it is performing fairly well, and 3% are unsure. Here, too, little has changed since Marist’s February survey.