Most of the news stories about this Siena poll are leading with the data about her “villain” designation in the Amazon deal, but that’s silly for a few reasons. For one thing, it’s within the margin of error. Asked if Ocasio-Cortez was a hero or villain in Amazon’s pullout, New Yorkers split 12/38. When asked about “local activists in Queens,” the split was 17/34. The MOE of the poll was 4.2 percent, so it’s possible that in reality more people blame the activists than blame her.
More broadly, though, one’s overall view of a well-known politician is bound to inform an assessment of whether they’re a hero or villain with respect to a particular policy development. If you like AOC generally, you’ll look for reasons to think of her as a hero in specific contexts. If you dislike her, you’re apt to put her in the villain box.
Which brings us to the real news here. Despite the fact that most are devout Democrats, New Yorkers aren’t fans of socialism’s new star.
Dig into the crosstabs and you’ll find that it’s independents in New York who are driving her dismal numbers. Chuck Schumer is at 41/52 among indies and 23/70 among GOPers; Kirsten Gillibrand is at 38/39 and 18/56, respectively; Ocasio Cortez is at 22/51(!) and 6/68(!!), respectively. She’s already poisonous to voters outside her party.
You may be surprised to learn that she’s not phenomenally popular among her own core constituencies either, though. Her rating among Democrats is a respectable 47/30 but that 30 percent disapproval is already higher than Schumer’s (73/22) or Gillibrand’s (59/21). (Ocasio-Cortez is already about as well known as Gillibrand, a presidential candidate and a senator for 10 years.) She’s at 30/40 among women and 35/40 among voters aged 18-34. For the past two months political junkies have been kicking around scenarios in which AOC primaries Schumer or Andrew Cuomo in 2022, believing that the fantastic enthusiasm for her among progressive activists and the endless fascination with her in media of all stripes would make her a formidable challenger. Looking at these numbers, the obvious conclusion is “not yet.” Maybe she’ll get there within the next four years.
Another obvious conclusion: What’s popular among activists and the chatterati in the hothouses of Twitter and Facebook isn’t necessarily popular with normal people. Go figure.
I wonder if Schumer and Cuomo will spend the next few years trying to get New York’s primary system changed from closed to open, just to be on the safe side. Schumer has endorsed “jungle primaries,” in which all candidates compete in a single primary and the top two advance to the general election regardless of party. Given how deeply independents and Republicans in New York seem to dislike AOC, he and Cuomo would greatly benefit from making it easier for those voters to cross over on primary day and cast a ballot for them in the interest of defeating her.
Anyway. The big question is what’s driving Ocasio-Cortez’s poor statewide numbers? How much of her unfavorability derives from animosity towards her ideology, as you might expect from non-Democrats, and how much from her role in chasing Amazon out of town? That’s the other newsy element in this poll — New Yorkers really dislike seeing Amazon pack up and leave.
By a 67-21 percent margin, New Yorkers say that Amazon cancelling its planned second headquarters in Queens was bad for New York. By as nearly as large a margin, 61-30 percent, they support the deal in which Amazon would receive up to $3 billion in state and city incentives and create up to 25,000 jobs if Amazon reconsiders, according to a new Siena College poll of New York State registered voters released today…
“At least 63 percent of Democrats, Republicans and independents, upstaters and downstaters, men and women, young and old, black and white New Yorkers agree: Amazon pulling out of Queens was bad for New York. Even 56 percent of self-described liberals think it was bad for New York,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “While some may have celebrated Amazon’s announcement to pull the plug, the vast majority of New Yorkers of every stripe thought it was bad for the Empire State.
Most New Yorkers seem aware that AOC played some role in Amazon’s decision, and if her status as top “villain” is in doubt the fact that a plurality views her as *a* villain in the matter isn’t. Even Democrats split 19/27 on the hero/villain question for her. (Indies split, gulp, 6/43.) She may have done herself real damage statewide by making herself the face of a progressive push to scare away a major corporation’s arrival. Especially since the incident tidily underlines one of the right’s basic critiques of progressivism, that its hostility to big business is destined to mean fewer jobs.
One other surprising detail: New Yorkers split 34/61 on whether to let illegals apply for state driver’s licenses. Democrats are basically evenly divided and independents overwhelmingly oppose the proposal at 25/71. Hasn’t Ocasio-Cortez endorsed that idea as well? I thought I remembered her saying so and looked for it online, but can’t find anything. Oh well. Probably not happening either way with numbers like these.