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Hochul's ratings at historic low in new poll; New Yorkers unhappy with handling of migrant crisis

state capitol building
CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons
The eastern side of the New York state Capitol in Albany, NY.

A new poll from Siena College found that 82% of New Yorkers are concerned about the state’s migrant crisis, which they view as a “serious” problem.

The poll also showed record-low approval ratings for Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The influx of tens of thousands of asylum-seekers into New York City over the past few months has led to increased tensions and finger-pointing between Mayor Eric Adams and Hochul, who up until now have been Democratic allies.

It’s also led to recriminations between the city and upstate communities after busloads of migrants have been sent to hotels in the Hudson Valley, Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, with little warning to community leaders.

Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg said New Yorkers have noticed, and they are increasingly concerned about the seeming disarray.

“New Yorkers are paying attention to the issue of the recent influx of migrants to the state,” Greenberg said. “They think it's a serious problem. In fact, 82% of New Yorkers say it's a serious problem; 54% say it's a very serious problem. Only 16% say it's not a problem at all, or not very much of a problem. And it's across the board.”

He said 77% of Democrats, 84% of independents and 89% of Republicans all say it’s a serious problem.

The poll also asked respondents how they rank their elected leaders’ response to the crisis and found 51% disapprove of the governor’s handling of the crisis, compared with 35% who think she’s doing a good job with it. Adams and President Joe Biden also receive low marks for their policies managing the migrants.

Disapproval over the crisis is likely a contributing factor to Hochul’s record-low approval ratings. Greenberg said she has just a 40% favorability rating, down from a high of 56% back in January, shortly after she was elected to the post by a relatively narrow margin.

“It's the worst her favorable or unfavorable ratings have been,” Greenberg said. “So she's in a tough spot – has been over the last six months. Certainly, her handling of the migrant issue does not help her numbers.”

New Yorkers are split on whether they approve of the job that Hochul is doing in office, at 46% to 46%.

Hochul earlier this week announced a win in her quest to get the federal government to help with the state’s migrant crisis. The Biden administration agreed to let the state use Floyd Bennett Field, a former military air station in Brooklyn, to house up to 2,000 single adults. She also announced that the state will invest $20 million in caseworkers to help expedite the asylum-seekers’ paperwork.

Reporters frequently ask Hochul about her policies regarding migrants, and she often lists the steps she’s taken to try to help with the crisis.

“The state of New York is very engaged in handling the migrant situation; we have committed over $1 billion, but that number is now approaching $1.5 billion,” Hochul said Monday. “We've added significant personnel resources. National Guard continues to be at sites in the city as well as upstate upon the request of county executives.”

But according to the poll, most people in the state don’t think that’s enough.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.