In new poll, voters identify “heroes” and “villains” in Amazon HQ debacle

Photo by Kevin Coughlin, Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo
An aerial view of the location where Amazon was going to establish a new corporate headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. The decision followed a comprehensive, year-long selection process during which 238 cities across North America competed for the multibillion-dollar project. But the deal fell apart when local activists, labor unions and Democratic state legislators protested aspects of the plan, such as using non-union labor and providing tax breaks and other incentives to Amazon. A new Siena College poll asks state voters to sort out the “heroes” and villains” in the saga.

By a 67-to-21 percent margin, New Yorkers say that Amazon cancelling its planned second headquarters in Queens was bad for New York. By as nearly as large a margin, 61-to-30 percent, they support the deal in which Amazon would receive up to $3 billion in state and city incentives and create up to 25,000 jobs if Amazon reconsiders, according to a new Siena College poll of New York State registered voters released Monday.

“At least 63 percent of Democrats, Republicans and independents, upstaters and downstaters, men and women, young and old, black and white New Yorkers agree: Amazon pulling out of Queens was bad for New York. Even 56 percent of self-described liberals think it was bad for New York,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “While some may have celebrated Amazon’s announcement to pull the plug, the vast majority of New Yorkers of every stripe thought it was bad for the Empire State.

“Who do New Yorkers blame? Well, there’s certainly blame enough to go around. More people think that Amazon, Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, the State Senate, and local Queens activists were villains in this saga than they were heroes,” Greenberg said. “However, voters say the biggest villain was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Only 12 percent call her hero, while 38 percent label her a villain,” Greenberg said. “Amazon itself was seen as the biggest villain among Democrats, but Republicans and independents had Ocasio-Cortez as far and away the largest villain, followed by the local Queens activists.”

Ocasio-Cortez was a vocal opponent of the Amazon headquarters deal, but by no means, the only opponent. Fifty percent of voters in the New York City suburbs called her a “villain” in the Amazon saga, while 29 percent of city voters and 40 percent of upstaters agree.

Thirty-four percent of voters label “local activists in Queens” as the villain in the story and 17 percent of voters call them the heroes.

Just 8 percent of voters call the State Senate the heroes, while 21 percent call them the villains.

Voters are split on the role of labor unions in the Amazon deal falling through; 18 percent of voters call them the hero and 17 percent call them the villain.

“By a wide margin, New Yorkers would support the deal coming back together if Cuomo and others can convince Amazon to reconsider,” Greenberg said. “The Amazon deal was seen as very contentious, however, there was strong support for it last month, before it got cancelled. There is an overwhelming feeling that its cancellation was bad for the state. And there is strong support – among all demographic groups – for Amazon to reconsider and move forward. Clearly, jobs outweigh the cost of government incentives in the minds of most voters.”

The sample of 700 registered voters included 47 percent democrats, 21 percent Republicans and 26 percent independent voters or third-party supporters.

The results have a margin of error of 4.2 percent.