Public split on Hochul’s first weeks

According to a recent Siena College Research Institute poll, 42% of New Yorkers view Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul favorably. Darren McGee/Office of the Governor

LOUDONVILLE — New Yorkers are split on how they feel about Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul, with many saying they’re happy with her first few weeks in office and many still saying they need more information.

According to the latest polling from the Siena College Research Institute, 42% of New Yorkers view the new governor favorably, and 41% said they don’t know who she is, or have enough information about her to form an opinion. Only 17% of respondents said they have an unfavorable opinion of Gov. Hochul.

“While still largely unknown to a wide swath of New Yorkers, Gov. Hochul begins her tenure with a lot of good will from voters,” said Steven Greenberg, head of Siena College’s polling group, in a statement announcing the poll results. “Among those with an opinion about her, she is viewed strongly favorably, although 2 in 5 New Yorkers don’t yet have an opinion, despite Hochul having been lieutenant governor for six years and elected statewide twice.”

Overall, 44% of New Yorkers give the governor good marks on job performance, to 37% who say she’s done a bad job.

A healthy majority of 52% believe Gov. Hochul will bring a more collaborative approach to Albany compared to former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and 72% said it’s an exciting prospect to have the first female governor take office in New York.

The poll also gauged voter’s response to vaccine and mask mandates, and found that a majority of New Yorkers, regardless of political affiliation, support them. Overall, 69% of voters said they support vaccine requirements for public school teachers and staff, including 79% of Democrats, 55% of Republicans and 58% of independent voters.

A majority, 66% of people said they would support businesses like gyms and restaurants requiring proof of vaccination from customers, including 78% of Democrats, 54% of Republicans and 54% of independents. A slightly smaller amount, 65% of people said they would support employer-driven vaccine mandates, with only 48% of Republicans supporting such a measure, compared to 54% of independents and 79% of Democrats.

Mask mandates were even more popular among New York voters, with 74% overall supporting government-mandated masks in indoor public spaces, including 49% of Republicans, 88% of Democrats and 69% of independents.

School mask mandates were the most popular of spread-stopping measures, with 78% of people supporting such a move. Over half, 57%, of Republicans support the universal school mask mandate, joining 89% of Democrats and 76% of independents.

When it comes to the pandemic altogether, though, more New Yorkers are pessimistic about the future now than they were five months ago.

“While 40% of voters think the worst of the pandemic is over, 44% say the worst is still to come, a major change from May, when by a 69-19% margin, voters thought the worst was over,” Mr. Greenberg said.

The poll also asked voters for their opinions on former Gov. Cuomo, who stepped down in late August after his administration was wracked with multiple scandals, including a number of sexual harassment allegations and assertions he misused state resources to publish his book.

In the Siena poll, 55% of voters gave Gov. Cuomo a poor favorability rating, his lowest ever rating, and 67% of people said he was right to leave office. More than 75% of voters from outside New York City said they approved of his decision to step down.

This Siena poll was conducted between Sept. 7 and 12, reaching 700 registered voters across New York State via phone and an online portal. Data collected was weighted to reflect the known breakdown of New York’s population by age, party affiliation by region, ethnicity, education and gender. The overall margin of error is plus or minus 4.2%.

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