Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sitdown Over Smackdown

It has traditionally been the plea of voters that politicians work together, even when the wisdom of the voters is to create divided government. On the national, President Barack Obama saw his poll numbers increase during the recent lame duck session when he reached across the aisle, and now New Yorkers are imploring Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be a bridge builder too.
Slightly over two-thirds of people polled by a recent Quinnipiac survey revealed that they supported Cuomo's tactic of sitting down with individual legislators to discuss the budget, as they learned that the steamroller technique failed with Gov. Elliot Spitzer in 2007.
"Those sit-down meals with legislators in the Governor's Mansion are a good idea, voters think," said Mickey Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "They prefer Cuomo's friendly persuasion to the steamroller personality claimed by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Voters prefer breaking bread to breaking heads."
Overall, Cuomo's approval rating is at 56 percent, with 15 percent of those polled viewing his tenure so far unfavorably. Interestingly enough, the governor is best received by upstate voters and Republicans, with his worst numbers, which are still over 50 percent, coming from the suburbs and Democrats. It's surprising that his biggest detractors aren't coming from New York City, where people seem to be in an uproar over their lost municipal aid and absent CFE money.
Helping the governor's numbers is the fact that 97 percent of those polled believe the budget is a very serious problem, which means he'll get more leeway to deal with it and can afford to step on the toes of some sacred cows, like health care spending and education spending.
Yet, while universally acknowledging the severity of the issue, New Yorkers are divided on how to ease the pain, with 76 percent opposing cuts to education and 64 percent opposing Medicaid cuts. These are the two areas that eat up the most of the budget, but based on this poll people fail to recognize this reality.
Instead they're focused on the growing storm around state workers and labor unions, with 58 percent supporting a reduction in pensions for state workers, 72 percent supporting a wage freeze for state workers and 56 percent supporting a furlough for state workers.
"Just about everyone agrees that the state is in miserable financial shape. But voters reject the Willie Sutton rule, to go where the money is," Carroll said. "They oppose cuts in the big budget items - school aid and Medicaid. They take aim at government workers, agreeing with Cuomo on a wage freeze and possible furloughs."
From February 15 - 21, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,457 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

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