Decision 2021

NYC Voters Want More Cops, But Sharply Divided on How and Where: WNBC Poll

The WNBC/Telemundo 47/POLITICO/Marist Poll found voters overwhelmingly feel the pandemic is under control, and that there's a future for themselves and their families in New York City

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What to Know

  • NYC voters generally want more cops on the street, but don't agree about what kind or where, according to a new WNBC/Telemundo 47/POLITICO/Marist Poll
  • More than 3 in 4 likely Democratic voters say they see a future for themselves in New York City, though some groups strongly disagree
  • More than 80 percent of those polled believe the coronavirus pandemic is under control in New York City

Of all the options to reduce crime before voters, shifting police funding to mental health is the single most popular choice – and while more voters overall want to increase police presence in the community in some way, they are divided about what that looks like.

The WNBC/Telemundo 47/POLITICO/Marist Poll found 33 percent of likely NYC Democratic primary voters believe that would be the best option, followed by 21 percent who want more uniformed cops on the street and another 21 percent who want the return of the plainclothes anti-crime units in certain neighborhoods. 

Watch live on Wednesday, June 16 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on NBCNewYork.com as the leading Democrat contenders hold their final pre-election debate.

While more people in total favored some kind of increase in police presence, virtually every geographic and demographic group in the poll preferred the mental health option to any other single option that involved more policing. There was a slight preference for more uniformed cops among those without a college degree, those 45 and older, moderate and conservative Democrats, and Catholic voters.

The same poll also found a strong lead in the mayoral race for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain who has campaigned on an anti-crime platform. However, one of Adams' opponents, Andrew Yang, received the endorsement from the city's Captains Endowment Association, which he said "should tell New Yorkers all they need to know about Eric Adams and his leadership." Adams, who spent much of his NYPD career in the captains union, said he told the union he didn't want their endorsement, a claim the union president said was not true.

The one place where there is broad and overwhelming support for more cops, though, is the subway -- almost seven in 10 voters said they felt there should be more uniformed cops in transit.

That result tracks with a wider split about where people feel safe and not. The poll found that 79 percent of voters agree or strongly agree with the notion that they feel safe from crime in their neighborhood, and 65 percent said they agree that they feel safe walking around the city in general.

But on the subways, there is a greater divide. Some 53 percent agree or strongly agree with the idea that they feel safe from crime riding the subway. Yet, less than half of Bronx and Queens residents agreed with that sentiment, as well as less than half of women or parents of school-aged children.

Among likely Democratic voters who still commute to work every day, 28 percent of those without college degrees and 24 percent of non-white voters don’t agree that they feel safe from crime on their commute. 

On Monday,

Fixing NYC Schools

When it comes to education, poll respondents were also crystal clear: 60 percent said fixing low-performing schools would have the biggest impact on public education, versus 20 percent who said that would come from admitting more Blacks and Latinos to the city’s elite high schools, and 15 percent who favored expanding charter schools. 

More than half of likely voters in every single one of the 26 demographic and geographic splits in the poll agreed that fixing the worst schools would have the biggest impact. 

Some 76 percent of voters also agree or strongly agree with the statement “You see a future for you and your family in New York City.” White voters, Manhattan residents and those who identify as liberal or very liberal were most likely to strongly agree with that statement.

Latino voters, those earning less than $50,000 a year and those who consider themselves moderate or conservative Democrats were most likely to strongly disagree.

Coronavirus in NYC

And as for the pandemic? It’s practically in voters’ rear-view mirror already; 82 percent agreed or strongly agreed that it was under control in New York City, and 63 percent said they expect the city to be fully back on its feet within a year.

The telephone poll of 876 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted June 3-9 and has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points. 

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