New Yorkers are angry that state senators sat around doing nothing for a month while critical legislation languished in the chamber – and they don't plan to forgive their representatives anytime soon.
More than 60 percent of voters in the state say they will remember the Senate stalemate come Election Day 2010, according to a new Siena Research Institute poll. Regardless of party affiliation, New Yorkers overwhelmingly agree the power struggle in Albany will only make laws harder to pass and don't believe it will create significant reforms.
“There is real anger at senators," said Siena New York pollster Steven Greenberg. "Although voters have long demonstrated particularly short memories, most feel that their fellow voters will remember the Senate fight next November and a plurality are already prepared to vote out incumbent senators.”
While most voters have negative views of Senators Malcolm Smith, Dean Skelos and John Sampson, it's clear on whom they heap most of the blame: Sen. Pedro Espada.
Forty-six percent of voters now have an unfavorable opinion of Espada – up from 33 percent at the end of June. More than 20 percent of poll respondents flatly said the Bronx pol is most to blame for the crisis of leadership, followed by Senate Republicans (18 percent), Senate Democrats (15 percent) and Gov. David Paterson (12 percent).
Not only was Paterson ruled the least blame-worthy of the bunch, the poll shows the manner in which he handled the stalemate boosted his credibility among voters. More than 60 percent of voters agree the governor played a role in helping to resolve the fight.
Still, it's not much to get excited about.
"Gov. Paterson has seen a slight increase in his favorability rating and job performance rating for the second straight month, however, his numbers remain very weak, and he continues to badly trail Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in a potential Democratic primary and Rudy Giuliani in a general election," Greenberg said. "And Paterson is virtually tied with little known former Representative Rick Lazio."
Most Democrats and Independent voters think Paterson did the right thing in appointing a lieutenant governor to put pressure on senators to reach a deal. They're not particularly impressed with his pick, however. Nearly two-thirds of voters don't know enough about Richard Ravitch to have an opinion – and among those who did have an opinion, 50 percent said the former MTA chief was only a fair or poor choice.