Siena Poll: Voters List Crime as Top Priority for Hochul, Legislature This Session

Photo by Darren McGee, Office of the Governor
On August 4, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul and State Police announced a months-long investigation of a gun trafficking ring. According to a Siena College poll releases this week, 92 percent of New Yorkers say crime continues to be a serious problem across the state and two thirds continue to say it’s a serious problem in their community.

Governor Kathy Hochul’s favorability and job approval ratings both ticked down this month, according to a new Siena poll released Monday. Hochul has a 46-43 percent favorability rating, down from 48-42 percent last month, and her job approval rating stands at 56-40 percent, compared to 56-36 percent last month.

Of the 744 New York state registered voters polled, 36 percent say crime should be Albany’s top priority this session, followed by cost of living, 27 percent, and affordable housing, 13 percent, with public health, environment and racial justice in single digits. When combining voters’ top two priorities, cost of living (62 percent) tops the list, followed by crime (55 percent), and the other issues far behind.

Ninety-two percent of New Yorkers say crime continues to be a serious problem across the state and two thirds continue to say it’s a serious problem in their community.

“Both Hochul’s favorability and job approval ratings dipped a little this month, but her favorability remains slightly positive and her overall job approval rating remains strong, particularly with – and only with –Democrats,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “On specific aspects of the job she’s doing, voters give Hochul a mixed report card.

“A majority approve of the job she’s doing to encourage businesses to locate in New York and a small plurality approve of the job she’s doing to increase availability of affordable housing. At the same time, a plurality disapproves of the job she’s doing to address crime, and a majority disapproves of her efforts to make New York more affordable,” Greenberg said. “Democrats approve of the job she’s doing in all four areas while Republicans and independents disapprove in all four areas.”

Image courtesy of the Siena College Research Institute

“Crime and cost of living were voters’ top two priorities for Albany back in December heading into this session, and they remain the two issues voters want Hochul and the Legislature to prioritize,” Greenberg said. “Crime is the top priority for Republicans, independents, downstate suburbanites, and upstaters, while for Democrats and New York City voters, cost of living edges out crime for the single top priority.

“For more than a year, more than nine in 10 voters have said crime is a serious problem – 60% very serious – and more than six in 10 have said that crime in their community is a serious problem –34% now say very serious,” Greenberg said. “At least 55% of voters from every party, region and race, think crime in the state is a very serious problem. When it comes to crime in their community, voters of color and those from New York City are significantly more concerned than are white, downstate suburban and upstate voters, who also remain concerned.”

“Similar to last month, basing minimum wage increases on the inflation rate has strong bipartisan support, as does lowering the BAC for DWI to .05%,” Greenberg said. “Democrats, overwhelmingly, and independents, strongly, support both increasing the tax on cigarettes by a buck and banning flavored tobacco products. Republicans are more closely divided, opposing the tax by six points, and supporting the flavor ban by three points.

“Expanding the film tax credit is supported by Democrats but more strongly opposed by Republicans and independents. Similarly, Democrats strongly support Hochul’s proposal on prohibiting fossil fuel-burning equipment in most new construction within the next several years, however Republicans and independents are even stronger in their opposition,” Greenberg said.

The Siena College Poll was conducted February 19-23, 2023, among 744 New York State registered voters. It has an overall margin of error of 5 percentage points, including the design effects resulting from weighting.