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While two in five New York voters are ready to leave the state, among whom 16% are ready right away and 50% within one to three years, majorities are more likely to support candidates for governor who back several political reforms, according to a new Unite NY/John Zogby Strategies poll conducted last week.

Fifty-percent feel that overall, the state is headed in the wrong direction, 55% say that politics in the state is headed in the wrong direction, and 52% express that “partisan politics in New York State has gotten worse”.

The new online poll of 1,001likely voters statewide has a margin-of-sampling error of +/-3.2 percentage points. The poll is a monthly series commissioned by Unite NY; a nonpartisan group devoted to reforms in the state’s political processes. The polls will lead to a Voter Empowerment Index which will be revealed in May.

When presented with political reforms that are in the wind, the most popular is term limits for the four major statewide elected officials – governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller. Three in five (60%) are either much more likely (23%) or “somewhat more likely” (37%) to vote for a gubernatorial candidate if he/she backs term limits. Only 12% are less likely with 16% not sure. Increased likelihood of support is across the board among Democrats (57% more likely-14% less likely), Republicans (63%-10%), and independents (54%-9%), as well as voters from Upstate (63%-10%), New York City (58%-12%) and New York City’s suburbs (61%-11%). By a factor of 58% to 21%, voters say they would feel more “empowered” if terms limits were imposed on these offices.

The second most popular reform in likelihood to move the needle on behalf of a gubernatorial candidate is implementation of ballot initiatives with 59% saying they are more likely and 14% less likely to vote for the candidate. Sixty-one percent say they would feel more empowered if such ballot initiatives were implemented.

A majority (57%) is more likely to vote for a candidate for the state’s highest office is he/she backs the abolition of dark money in political campaigns, the process whereby unnamed individuals can give large sums to nonprofit groups who back political campaigns. And again, a majority (56%) says that would make them feel more empowered. Overall, one in four (23%) say this reform would not make them feel empowered. This reform garners a majority more likely to support a candidate among all political parties and in every region of the state.

Fifty-five percent and 54%, respectively, are more likely to vote for a candidate who pushes for ranked choice voting in statewide elections and for open primaries. Only 15% say they are less likely to vote for a backer of open primaries and with 53% saying that this reform makes them feel empowered as a voter. Both are reforms aimed at breaking through the monopoly influence of the two major parties and their leadership.

New York is renowned for its rough and tumble politics. It has always been a strong two-party competitive state when it comes to holding the seat of power in Albany. It is also a state dominated by a culture of individualism when it comes to its attitude toward government largesse. In other words, it is the original “what’s in it for me?” state. Citizens have favorite government programs and, if they want the state budget cut, they will present lawmakers with a list of “the other guy’s” programs. Thus, to a great degree, New Yorkers can blame themselves as much for high taxes and huge spending as they do their government.

But it appears that the state of New York is at a tipping point. Trust in government is low. The honeymoon period for Governor Kathy Hochul may be soon be coming to an end, and New Yorkers continue to reveal to us in this series of Unite NY/John Zogby Strategies polls that they want to make fundamental changes. The two dominant parties are firmly entrenched in Albany. Laws recently enacted under former Governor Andrew Cuomo to limit the ballot access to the longstanding tradition of third parties have been passed. But it certainly feels that New York voters are not ready to throw their hands up in the air. Majorities favor having third parties on ballots, open primaries, term limits for statewide elected officials, and abolishing dark money. And they appear ready to reward a candidate for governor who favor these reforms.


See below for data and question-wording.

Dem Primary

Rep Primary

All Voters: here and here

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