© 2024 WSKG

601 Gates Road
Vestal, NY 13850

217 N Aurora St
Ithaca, NY 14850

FCC Public Files:
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

WSKG thanks our sponsors...

Siena poll: New Yorkers divided on Israel-Hamas war, New York Democrats lukewarm on 2024 Biden bid

Palestinians inspect the rubble Abu Helal family in Rafah refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. The strike killed dozens of people.(AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
Hatem Ali/AP
Palestinians inspect the rubble Abu Helal family in Rafah refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. The strike killed dozens of people.(AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

There’s a new poll out from the Siena College Research Institute that measures anti-Semitism in New York State since October 7 and a number of other political questions. The poll’s director Dr. Don Levy broke it down with WAMC’s Ian Pickus.

This poll asked about attitudes in New York State since the October 7 attacks in Israel. What did you find out?

Well, we found that there is a great deal of anti-Semitism; the perception of anti-Semitism. 73%, three out of every four New Yorkers feel as though Jewish citizens here in New York are experiencing either a great deal or some anti-Semitism. And of those people who do feel as though Jews are experiencing anti-Semitism, nearly 75% of those people think it has increased. Now, it's not just anti-Semitism that is perceived as a problem. Islamophobia and the treatment of Muslims here in New York also is seen as a problem by nearly as many New Yorkers. 62% of New Yorkers feel as though Muslims are experiencing Islamophobia since the October 7 outbreak of war, and slightly fewer, 59% of those say it has increased. So clearly, New Yorkers are saying there's a hotbed of discrimination, a hotbed of ill feeling that is rampant right now in New York State towards Jewish citizens as well as Muslims.

Is that something that you regularly ask about? Or was it just inspired by the October 7 attacks and aftermath?

Unfortunately, it is something that was inspired by the recent events that we've seen, so we thought we needed to take a look at this and to see to what extent New Yorkers in general see this problem. We also asked some questions about some of the polar positions on the current war in the Middle East as well, and there we found that New Yorkers tend to side with the Israeli position. 59% feel as though Hamas’s attacks on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,400 Israeli citizens should be condemned without any hesitation (and) without any explanation, as opposed to 25% -by no means a small percentage of New Yorkers- a quarter of New Yorkers who say (that) while they condemn the death of citizens, they feel as though it was the result of decades of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. So those two positions are represented more than 2-to-1 in terms of full stop (condemnation of) the Hamas attacks. But still a quarter of New Yorkers say ‘Hey, wait a second, I think I understand at least the Palestinian position. I condemn the death of citizens, but I understand that in their view, that Israelis have treated the Palestinians in a way that resulted in this.’

We flip it around, and we say, ‘What about the Israeli attacks currently on Gaza?’ They're 30% of all New Yorkers. So nearly one out of three, say those attacks, the Israelis’ bombing in Gaza should be condemned immediately without any explanation (and) without any hesitation. Still again, a majority, 54%, say, ‘While again, I feel terrible about the death of any citizen, but I understand and I support the Israeli position, that they had no other choice in order to attack Hamas and seek to get their hostages back.’ So real divisions here in New York State, really very strong feelings towards the current war in the Middle East.

Governor Hochul made a trip to Israel after the attacks and in a show of solidarity. How are poll respondents thinking about the governor these days?

Very little change in the attitudes towards the governor. Governor Hochul’s capability rating is just slightly negative; 40% positive, 43%. negative. That's virtually unchanged from a month ago when it was 40%-44%. So, it doesn't appear as though Governor Hochul’s trip made any movement really in how New Yorkers feel towards her at this point. In terms of the job that she's doing as governor, we still see a slight positive view. 48% approve of the job that the governor is doing, as opposed to 44% who disapprove of the job that she is doing, so about a break-even analysis across the state in terms of both attitudes towards the governor and job approval. It doesn't appear as though despite the fact that a majority of New Yorkers tend to side with the Israeli position -that's the position that the governor has supported- that moves the needle on the governor's approval or job performance this month.

We know from hypothetical head-to-head polls that President Biden and former President Trump are basically running even if they have a 2024 rematch. However, your poll found that Democrats in New York are not too satisfied with having Biden on the ticket while Republicans are pretty much happy to have Trump there, right?

Yeah, absolutely. In terms of how Republicans feel about who their nominee should be, (there is) overwhelming support. Two thirds of all Republicans, majorities of moderate Republicans, conservative Republicans want Donald Trump to be their nominee. Very light support across New York of the 26% who are looking for someone else, that's only one out of four Republicans who would like someone else, DeSantis with a slight lead over Nikki Haley. But that's really slicing a very small group. You turn around to Democrats, concern for Joe Biden amongst New York Democrats is that right now a majority -51%- would prefer someone other than Joe Biden. So at this point, there's a tremendous concern amongst Democrats. You look, for example, at young Democrats, those 18 to 34 years of age, 75% of Democrats of that group say, ‘I prefer someone else.’ Will they come home to Biden? It certainly does look as though if the election ends up being President Biden against former President Trump, that those Democrats will tend to come home, to come back.

Right now in a hypothetical rematch between Biden and Trump here in New York, Biden is up by 10 points. Remember, this is a state that Biden won by 23 points in 2020, so some of that consternation is ending up with folks saying, ‘Maybe somebody else, maybe a third party candidate.’ And when we tested third party candidates, we found that the race does tighten even more. And if we put a race in that had Robert Kennedy as well as Cornel West, there Biden is up by only seven points over Trump. And we find that Kennedy polls in 13%, Cornel West (at) 5%. So 18% overall saying, ‘I'm looking at one of these third party candidates.’ That certainly could end up having an effect here in New York as well as across the nation.

You've looked at these races for a long time. Is it your sense that that 18% is effectively dissatisfaction with the two main choices?

At this point it does appear as though that is the case. In some national polling that we did recently, we found that voters across the major battleground states -similar(ly) here in New York- a large percentage have a negative view of both Biden and Trump. Nationally, about 20% of all voters view them both unfavorably. So at this point, virtually a year away from the election, that is a consternation, a frustration vote. Will they end up casting their ballot for third party candidates? It does appear that there's a threat amongst some voters, especially young voters, who have told us repeatedly that they think both President Biden and former President Trump are just out of step with their interests. They're too old. So I think that more so than in some previous elections that dissatisfaction could very well result in a growing third party vote gathering even here in New York.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.