New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul hits new polling lows

A new Siena College poll shows New Yorkers aren’t happy with the governor, or congestion pricing.

Gov. Kathy Hochul lost a little more support in the most recent Siena College poll.

Gov. Kathy Hochul lost a little more support in the most recent Siena College poll. Susan Watts/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul

On the heels of a state budget that was nearly three weeks late, Gov. Kathy Hochul has hit new polling lows as a plurality of New Yorkers gave her poor marks for her job performance. According to a new poll from Siena College, 49% of respondents said Hochul’s job performance as governor has been lacking, compared to 45% who said she’s been doing a good job. This was the lowest her job performance has been in a Siena poll since taking office, and the first time her rating has been underwater. Her job performance in February was still positive – if only slightly – at 48%-47%.

Hochul’s favorability also hit new lows, with 49% viewing her unfavorability compared to just 40% saying they view her well. That’s down slightly from February, when those numbers stood at 41% favorable and 46% unfavorable. Although Democrats continue to view Hochul favorably and approve of her job performance, both Republicans and independents did not by fairly wide margins. 

Hochul was also particularly disliked in the suburbs and upstate. Her favorability rating in the suburbs was 37%-50% and in upstate 34%-55%. Hochul’s job approval ratings were higher in those regions by comparison, but still underwater.

However, New Yorkers also didn’t view the state Senate or the Assembly particularly well in the poll. For the state Senate, 42% of New Yorkers had an unfavorable opinion, compared to 37% who had a favorable opinion. The Assembly fared slightly better, with 38% viewing the chamber negatively and 35% viewing it positively.

On the topic of retail theft, which Hochul made a significant focus of her budget proposals, a vast majority – 76% – considered it to be a major problem in the state. Hochul touted her proposals to combat retail theft repeatedly in the past several months and several provisions to tackle the issue in the state budget that was finalized over the weekend. The budget included higher penalties for assaulting a retail worker, a new offense for fencing stolen goods online, aggregating multiple thefts into a single charge to make it easier to prosecute and over $40 million to help law enforcement.

New Yorkers were also largely disapproving of the jobs that President Joe Biden, Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have done in managing the influx of migrants to New York City over the past two years. Of the respondents, 55% disapproved of the job Adams has done on migrants, with 24% approving, while Hochul was 58% disapprove and 33% approve, and Biden was the worst at 62% disapprove and 34% approve.

According to the poll, a plurality of New Yorkers also supported a housing proposal Hochul pitched last year that got killed by suburban lawmakers. Of those polled, 45% said they supported the state overriding local zoning laws in order to spur housing growth, compared to 40% who opposed the idea. Although state leaders agreed to a housing package as part of the budget, that provision was not included. Opposition was higher in the suburbs and upstate.

With congestion pricing poised to take effect soon, a majority of New Yorkers – 63% –  also said they oppose the tolling scheme. That opposition held true across geographic regions and ideological lines, with even slight majorities of 54% of Democrats and 51% of liberals saying they don’t support it. Nearly two-thirds of New York City residents said they opposed congestion pricing, with the number going even higher to 72% of suburbanites. The $15 surcharge to enter Manhattan below 60th Street is set to take effect in June.

Although the issue has arisen more in other states, a slight plurality of New Yorkers polled said they support giving parent groups the right to decide what books students can read. Support was highest in New York City, where 50% said that parents should be able to override teacher decisions about the books students read. Conservative parent-led groups like Moms for Liberty that have grown in influence in other states have targeted books that feature LGBTQ+ characters or themes, as well as those about Black people or history, and other topics considered to be associated with progressive politics.

New Yorkers were also closely divided on the issue of reparations for Black Americans descended from slaves. The state recently created a commission to study the idea of reparations in New York, and 47% said they support providing reparations, while 46% opposed it.

Meanwhile, a significant majority of New Yorkers polled – 69% – said they back enhancing protections for LGBTQ+ community members. That included 66% of those in the suburbs, where Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has made national headlines recently for enacting an executive order effectively banning trans female athletes from competing at county-owned facilities. The state attorney general issued a cease-and-desist notice shortly after the order, and a local roller derby league has sued, but Blakeman has staunchly defended his action, which remains in effect.