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Gov. Kathy Hochul's numbers drop in latest Siena College poll

Gov. Kathy Hochul, speaking in Rochester on February 20, 2024
Mike Groll
Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks in Rochester on Feb. 20, 2024.

A new poll has some bad news for Gov. Kathy Hochul: Her popularity among New York voters has declined by 8 points since earlier this winter. 

The Siena College poll also found a decided lack of enthusiasm for the likely Democratic and Republican candidates in the 2024 presidential race.

Hochul, who enjoyed her highest favorability and job performance ratings in January, saw those numbers fall by 8 percentage points this month.

The poll finds that most New Yorkers think Hochul is hard-working, and a plurality of voters believe she is an honest politician. But many don’t view her as a strong leader, and they believe she is out of touch with the average New Yorker.

Siena pollster Steve Greenberg said the governor lost ground among some core voting blocs that Democrats need to be competitive in this year’s congressional races.

“Interestingly, her drop was largely among Democrats, and among downstate suburban voters,” Greenberg said.

He said the drop could be due to some of the governor’s budget proposals that she outlined in late January or that “voters don't see her making progress on the issues they care about.”

Hochul has gained negative attention for her proposal to make changes to the state’s school aid formula, which would result in some school districts in suburban and rural areas receiving less money this year than they would under the old rules. She also has scaled back plans for affordable housing after failing last year to win passage of an ambitious project.

Greenberg said Hochul’s numbers might also have taken a hit from the hotly contested congressional race to replace George Santos.

“The downstate airwaves — TV, radio — were filled with commercials,” Greenberg said. “Certainly, crime and the influx of migrants into New York were major issues in that campaign. So maybe that had an effect on her numbers.”

The state’s Conservatve Party was quick to pounce on the poll numbers. 

In a statement, Party Chair Gerry Kassar said that “New Yorkers have had it with the precipitous decline in quality of life under Governor Kathy Hochul” and the one-party Democratic rule of the New York State Legislature.

Kassar blamed what he called the Democrats’ “unbridled” liberal policies and said the state needs “stark political change.”

The poll also asked about this year’s presidential contest and found anemic support for both front-runners, Democratic President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, a Republican.

In a head-to-head matchup, Biden leads Trump 48% to 36% in blue New York, but both have lackluster favorability ratings. Greenberg said the poll for the first time asked voters who would like the next president to be someone other than the two men.

“We said, ‘If you had your choice, and you could choose the next president, would it be Joe Biden, Donald Trump or someone else?’” Greenberg said. “A plurality of New York voters said, ‘Please give me a president not named Trump or Biden.’”

The poll found only 7% think both Biden and Trump are physically and mentally fit to serve a four-year term.

The poll also asked about a four-way race including independent candidates Cornel West and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. In that matchup, Biden led Trump by just 10 points, with West getting 6% of voters’ support, and Kennedy receiving 13%.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.