Unite NY/John Zogby Strategies Voter Empowerment Index
While Governor Kathy Hochul could be poised for a solid victory electing her to her current position as New York’s chief executive, voters in New York are not prepared to write her a blank check for the next four years. Their overall mood is bleak, especially about the condition of the state’s political system and they favor a number of reforms that could reduce what they see as the current control by big money and party powerbrokers.
These conclusions are based on the results of four months of polling <- (Link to our post) by Unite NY and John Zogby Strategies, an effort to both collect data and analyze it into a Voter Empowerment Index that captures both the mood of voters and their feelings about fundamental political reforms, many of which exist in most other states.
To date, over 4,000 likely voters have been polled in this project and here are the major conclusions:
While Hochul’s approval has remained strong since January (58%), New York voters’ mood has remained sour as seen by:
A majority (51%) believe New York State is headed off on the wrong track (up from 46% since January)
Slightly more than two of five (41%) say they are considering or have made plans to leave the state (up from 34% since January).
Almost half (47%) reported crime and public safety as the top issue (up from 37% since January)
And just below two of five (38%) stated taxes and the budget are the second most important issue that the next Governor needs to address immediately (slightly up from 36% since January).
The mood index score over the last 4 months is 96.7. A baseline score is 100, so the score of 96.7 indicates the overall negative sentiment has continuously trended downward. By November, a good barometer for an incumbent should be a growing number that surpasses 100 and thus a positive mood.
This score reveals a souring sentiment about New York State politics and the way Albany works.
Voters in a state with a long history of sweeping reform want solutions amidst a growing dark cloud. New York voters in large numbers support:
Term limits for statewide elected officials (63% support – it was 64% back in January).
Open primaries for New York State (51% support – it was 49% back in January).
A system whereby voters can hold ballot initiatives (61% support – it was 55% back in January).
Rank Choice Voting (58% support – it was 51% back in January).
Plus, each question on reform was followed up with asking respondents, “if enacted, would it make you feel more empowered?” In each case, the level of empowerment equaled the level of support. For example, regarding term limits for statewide elected officials, 57% say they would feel more empowered if it were enacted. Regarding open primaries, 51% say they would feel more empowered if said reform were enacted. And finally, on the topic of holding ballot initiatives, 63% would feel empowered if enacted.
The reform index score over the last 4 months is 99.6. Again, the score 100 is the baseline. This indicates that the desire for reform has remained steady.
This strongly suggests that despite an endemic lack of trust, New Yorkers really want basic reforms.
Certainly, on one level, the press and public will be closely following the horse race for Governor and analyzing what the results portend for both public policy and the 2024 election. But underlying the results, there should also be a focus on how to fix what is widely perceived to be a broken system of the way things get done in New York. Unite NY and John Zogby Strategies will continue to track the sentiment of voters to see if the momentum for reform continues, grows, or declines in the coming months.
Click to see index methodology.