Gov. Kathy Hochul has been rising to her challenges since winning a full term in November with a high-profile battle with her own party in the state Senate for her nominee to lead the state Supreme Court.
But a Siena College poll released Monday found that a majority of voters approve of the job she does as governor, earning her best marks yet in the poll.
At the same time, her agenda against raising household taxes, linking the minimum wage to inflation and changes to New York’s bail cap law are popular with New York voters across all parties, the poll found.
Hochul will further outline her agenda in the coming days with a state budget proposal, which is expected to be passed before April, when the state’s fiscal year begins.
She will detail the spending plan amid an ongoing battle with Democrats in the state Senate over her election as chief justice of the Circuit Court. Last week, a key Senate committee rejected Judge Hector LaSalle’s nomination; Hochul has not ruled out a lawsuit to force a vote in Sneate State.
But apart from the LaSalle problem in Albany, Hochul starts the new year in a strong position with voters.
The poll found Hochul’s job approval rating at 56% to 36%, her best since taking office in 2021 after Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned. Her positive rating from voters has also increased over the past month, with 48% of voters having a positive opinion and 42% having a negative opinion.
Hochul’s resurgence was due in large part to New York City-area voters as well as the Independents, a voting bloc with which she struggled to gain traction during her successful election against Republican Lee Zeldin last year.
“As the 2023 legislative session begins with her first State of the State address crammed with proposals that have strong voter support, Hochul sees her Job Approval Score at its highest, down from a positive five in the last month has risen to 20 points positive approval rating today. The jump — despite persistent strong divisions between the parties — is largely due to independent and lower-state voters,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.
The poll found that 85% of voters support Hochul’s pledge not to raise taxes in the state budget this year, a stance that puts them at odds with progressives who want to raise taxes on the wealthy again this year. No tax collection has broad support among Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
Meanwhile, the governor’s proposal to link the state minimum wage to the inflation rate has 76% of New York voters backing it, including 88% Democrats and 57% Republicans.
Hochul is also calling again for changes to the New York law that restricted the use of cash bail for many criminal charges, ending the “least restrictive” standard for determining whether bail should be posted for felonies. This proposal is supported by 65% of voters, including 68% Democrats, 61% Republicans and 63% Independents.
Voters have typically ranked crime and public safety as the top priorities for elected officials in the state.
There is also broad support for Hochul’s proposal to extend paid families to up to 12 weeks for state employees, with 76% of voters backing the idea.
But at the same time, there is skepticism as to whether Hochul will be able to make progress on two of its most important goals: making New York safer and more affordable.
A majority of voters doubt they will be able to cope with the rising cost of living, 59% to 25%. And a majority of voters, 45 to 36 percent, don’t believe it can make the state safer. A similar majority have doubts about their ability to improve the mental health system, the survey found.
According to the poll, voters in Congress want Republican Rep. George Santos ousted from office amid multiple revelations he lied about his resume and life story.
The poll found that two-thirds of Democrats, 59% of independent voters and a majority of 49% Republicans want Santos going the way. Only 17% of voters believe he should not resign. Suburban voters want him to leave office by a margin of 56 percentage points, 71% to 15%.
The survey of 821 registered voters was conducted from January 15-19. It has an error rate of 4.3 percentage points.