NYers Tired of “Worst in Nation” Government: Poll

Near majority of voters want all senators thrown out of office

When it comes to state government, New Yorkers want a do-over.

They're mad about the budget. They're mad about the senate stalemate that brought state politics to a screeching halt for a month. They're mad at Gov. David Paterson.

New Yorkers are so frustrated with how things are going in the state that nearly half of registered voters say almost everyone in the State Senate, including their own legislators, deserves to be thrown out, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

Voters aren't thrilled with their representatives in the assembly, either. Nearly 80 percent say New York state government, on the whole, is dysfunctional, and 58 percent say "it's the worst" or "among the worst" in the nation --  a 15 percentage point jump from January.

"Dysfunctional is practically a synonym for the New York State Legislature and voters want a change," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Half of all New Yorkers feel personally embarrassed by the Albany mess." 

More than 70 percent of voters are dissatisfied with how things are going across the board – and the state legislature's approval rating has plummeted to 18 percent, the government's lowest score in the history of the Quinnipiac poll.

Concern about the economy prevails, with 93 percent of voters saying the state's budget problems are serious, but most don't think the legislature has the guts to do anything about it. Only 8 percent say the state legislature has "the political courage to make unpopular budget decisions," while 87 percent expect "business as usual" in Albany.  

Those numbers indicate a rapidly disintegrating faith on the part of the people. In February, nearly a fifth of registered voters believed Albany could turn things around.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver agrees with most NY voters who believe Albany is dysfunctional but hanging his hopes on the fact that most voters think their own representatives are doing a fine job. 

"I am dissatisfied as well with some of the experiences of this past summer,"  Silver said.

Silver said after decades of Republicans in charge of the Senate he thinks the Democrats need some time to get their sea legs.  

"It will take the Democrats a little bit to get the feeling of leadership under their feet. Once they do, I think you’ll see a smooth-functioning Senate and Albany as well."

Increasingly, New Yorkers don't believe Democratic Gov. Paterson is the guy to fix things, either. More than 60 percent of voters disapprove of the way he's handling the state budget, compared with 43 percent who felt that way in January.

And voters are calling for an independent body to do things differently. By a 3-1 margin, New Yorkers support the establishment of a state Constitutional Convention to revamp state government – and 70 percent of voters want an independent commission created to redraw legislative district lines.   

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,1667 New York registered voters from Aug. 10-13. The poll has a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

Melissa Russo contributed to this report

Contact Us