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Poll: Most voters supportive of state constitution including abortion rights

Would vote for NY Equal Rights Amendment in November

ALBANY — According to the latest Siena College Research Institute poll, New York voters appear largely unified on a number of issues that could be key topics in this year’s election, including an amendment proposition that could appear on the ballot, a raft of currently-unpassed legislation that would limit social media’s reach with children, and the ongoing protests in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

According to the SCRI poll, 59% of voters said they would vote yes on the NY Equal Protection of Law amendment, should it appear on their ballot this November, with only 26% saying the would vote no.

That amendment, essentially a state-level Equal Rights Amendment that would extend constitutional protection to people based on their gender, sexuality and ability to give birth. Democrats have billed it as a major step forward for human rights, saying it will protect, at the state constitution level, the right to abortion and gay marriage, as well as the rights of transgender people.

Republicans have been less supportive of the measure — and supported a legal challenge to the ballot proposition that has resulted in a Supreme Court justice from Livingston County tossing it off the ballot, although his decision has been appealed.

When asked specifically about the issues the amendment would address, 64% of voters said they would support a constitutional amendment to protect abortion, with 22% saying they would not, while 48% of voters said they would vote yes on an amendment to protect transgender rights, and 32% said they would not.

“Other than Republicans and self-identified conservatives, every demographic group — by region, gender, race, age, religion or income — supports, by at least a two-to-one margin, amending the state constitution to protect abortion rights,” said Steven Greenberg, a SCRI pollster. “A plurality of Republicans and conservatives oppose it. An amendment to protect transgender rights has plurality support, with stronger support from Democrats, women, and Black, young and New York City voters.”

As for social media and children, 63% of voters said they support a proposal that would ban social media platforms from providing algorithmically generated, addictive content feeds to children, with only 20% saying they would not. Lawmakers in the state Capitol have been discussing such a bill, the SAFE For Kids Act, for months, and Gov. Kathy Hochul recently called a press conference to up the pressure on legislators to advance that bill to her desk for a signature.

“One issue that seems to unite every demographic group in the state is support for a proposal to ban social media platforms from providing addictive, algorithim-based feeds to minors without parental consent,” Greenberg said. “Republicans support the proposal nearly two-to-one, 52-27%, and they are the ‘least supportive’ of any group. In fact, no other demographic group has more than 24% in opposition.”

On the protests in support of Palestinians as Israel continues to engage in wide-scale military operations in Gaza to root out the Hamas militant group, an overwhelming 72% of poll respondents said they support the right for students to peacefully protest the suffering of Gazan

Palestinians, and 22% said they do not. However, 70% said they feel the protests that had been taking place for weeks on college campuses, where students occupied areas of campus to create “Gaza Solidarity Encampments,” have gone too far and police were justified in their crackdown to remove the encampments, with 22% saying they did not feel the protests had gone too far.

A majority, 64%, of voters said they understood the frustrations voiced by the protesters, and said they support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, while 27% said they do not.

A smaller majority, 61%, said they feel that the college demonstrators have forgotten the role that Hamas played in beginning the hostilities, and said they felt the demonstrations had become antisemitic, with 25% disagreeing with that sentiment.

“While they differ by a degree, a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents agree with each of (these) four statements,” Greenberg said. “Interestingly, older voters are more likely to say the demonstrations crossed into antisemitism and it was OK to call the police, while younger voters are more likely to support peacefully demonstrating and calling for a ceasefire.”

The SCRI poll also asked voters their opinions on the state and nation’s leading elected officials. Among New Yorkers, President Joe Biden’s favorability rating remains largely the same as it was last month — 45% of voters have a positive view of Biden, and 50% say they have a negative view of him. Last month, the breakdown was 45% positive, 52% negative.

Donald Trump, the former president and Republican nominee this year, remains even more underwater with the residents of his former home state — 39% of voters said they have a positive view of him, and 56% said they have a negative view of him.

When pitted against one another in a hypothetical one-on-one competition, Biden leads Trump, with 47% of voters saying they’d vote Biden to 38% who say they’d vote Trump.

Greenberg said that’s a surprisingly tight margin in a heavily Democrat state like New York.

“In a state that hasn’t voted for the GOP candidate for president since Ronald Reagan 40 years ago, and where Democrats hold a 26-point enrollment advantage over Republicans, Biden only leads Trump — whose negative favorability rating is not much worse than Biden’s — by a ‘narrow’ nine points,” Greenberg said. “While 18% of Democrats support Trump, only 9% of Republicans support Biden, and independents are evenly divided, 37-37%. There is only a small gender gap as Biden leads with men by five points and with women by 12 points.”

Voters are also significantly pessimistic about what the election of either man means for the future of the country. A large proportion, 41%, of voters said a Trump victory would “irreparably harm America, while 32% said a Biden victory would do the same. Only 18% of voters said the country will “survive and thrive,” with either man.

In Congress, voters are as a group more supportive of electing a Democrat to Congress over a Republican, with 49% of statewide voters saying they’ll vote for a Democrat in their local Congressional race in November, and 33% saying they’d vote Republican.

And at the state level, Hochul’s favorability rating continues to drop –this month 38% of voters said they have a good opinion of her to 46% who said they have a negative view of her personally. Last month, 40% of voters said they had a good view of the Governor to 49% who said they have a poor view of her.

As for her job approval rating, which asks voters to put aside their view of the Governor personally and reflect on the decisions she’s making as the state’s chief executive, 45% of voters said she is doing a good job to 46% who said she is doing a poor job. Last month 45% of voters said she was doing well, and 49% said she was doing poorly.

For this poll, SCRI contacted 1,191 registered New York voters via landline, cellphone and an online polling panel. It has a margin of error of 3.9% in either direction. Historically, SCRI statewide polls have reached between 600 and 900 voters with a margin of error upwards of 4.5%.

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