Voters also say homelessness is becoming a major problem; Blacks, whites and Hispanics give new police commissioner high marks
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gets low grades for handling political corruption as voters disapprove 52 to 28 percent of the way he is handling this issue, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released March 1.
De Blasio has been in the news lately for concerns about his fundraising activities and whether he performed various favors in return for donations to his 2013 election campaign and a nonprofit he created.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s Office — which successfully prosecuted former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and several other public officials on corruption charges — questioned de Blasio for several hours on February 24.
In the Quinnipiac poll conducted between February 23 and February 27, more than 80 percent of voters say political corruption is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem in New York City government. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
Half of voters believe the mayor does favors for developers who make political contributions to campaigns in which he is involved, voters say by a margin of 50 to 29 percent. And exactly half of those who believe the mayor does favors tell pollsters that these actions are unethical, but not illegal.
Only 33 percent of those who believe the mayor does favors say this action is illegal.
“Does de Blasio do favors for some developers? Yes, says half of New Yorkers. “Some say what the mayor does is illegal and even more think it’s unethical. “Overall, New Yorkers say, political corruption is a big problem.”
More than half of voters (57 to 31 percent) also say that Mayor de Blasio’s decision to seek contributions to pay for his legal defense related to these charges is an ethical problem, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds.
“Mayor Bill de Blasio’s asking for contributions to help pay his lawyers raises ethical questions, New York voters think. It’s a political question, too, in this reelection year as 78 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of Democrats say it’s a problem,” said Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
“How much of this stuff is just politics?” Carroll asked. “Last week, all the TV screens showed pictures of Mayor de Blasio going to be questioned by U. S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s people. But New York City voters say 52 – 37 percent the mayor is honest and trustworthy.
There is some good news for de Blasio in the poll. Approval ratings for the mayor’s handling of other issues include a 54-to-39 percent approval for his handling of crime and a 54-to-34 percent approval for his handling of relations between the city’s blacks and whites.
Voters are split on his handling of relations between the police and the community (48-to-45 percent); his handling the city budget (40-to-39 percent) and his handling of public schools (44-to-42 percent). De Blasio gets negative approval (36-to-55 percent) for his handling of poverty and homelessness.
Quinnipiac asked 1,001 voters about lifestyle issues under de Blasio’s administration.
The poll finds that half of New York City voters – 51 percent – say they can’t afford to live in the city. But only 32 percent say they would leave the city if they could, while 66 percent say they would stay. There is little difference among black, white or Hispanic voters on the stay-or-go decision.
A total of 96 percent of New York City voters say homelessness is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem and 71 percent say the city is doing too little to help homeless people. In fact, spending more than $2 billion in the next year to help homeless people is the “right amount,” 46 percent of voters say, while 19 percent say it’s too much and 18 percent say it’s too little.
Compared to a few years ago, 54 percent of New York City voters say, they are seeing more homeless people on the streets, in the subway and in the parks. And 49 percent say they are encountering more homeless people asking for money.
“Homelessness is a big problem, New Yorkers think. Their attitudes are a mixture of compassion and impatience,” Carroll said. “Are homeless people to blame for their predicament? No, 75 percent say. But 64 percent say homeless people should work for their shelter and 52 percent say they should be required to take random drug tests.”
Meanwhile, New York City voters approve by a margin of 52-to-21 percent of the job Police Commissioner James O’Neill is doing. Approval among black, white and Hispanic voters is similar.
Voters approve 68-to-24 percent of the job police are doing citywide and approve 75 – 21 percent of the job police in their community are doing.
Support for a so-called “Mansion Tax” on the sale of homes or apartments for more than $2 million is 53-to-38 percent city-wide.
Support ranges from 47-to-42 percent in Staten Island to 58-to-37 percent in Queens. In Manhattan, where most high-end sales occur, support is 53-to-32 percent.
From February 23 – 27, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,001 New York City voters with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. Live interviewers call landlines and cell phones.