May 5, 2005
Political consultant: New Yorkers want substantive policy changes, and consider an on-time budget necessary but not sufficient
“In Upstate New York, it’s the economy, stupid,” said Patrick Lanne, vice president of Public Opinion Strategies. “And government reform sits near the bottom of the issue agenda.”
Public Opinion Strategies is a top national political consulting and polling firm that serves Republican clients, including governors, U.S. Senators, and Congress members, as well as Fortune 500 clients. In his most recent analysis, Lanne studied data compiled by pollsters at Marist College and Siena College.
Although more than two-thirds of voters said an on-time budget matters to them a great deal (44 percent) or somewhat (23 percent), this year’s prompt budget did little to improve voters’ mood, Lanne noted.
“The first on-time budget in two decades has done little to improve the overall mood of voters,” Lanne said. “Indeed, New Yorkers are actually voicing a higher degree of dissatisfaction with the status quo than before the budget was passed.”
He noted that some of the highest “right direction” number in the last decade occurred during periods of record delays in state-budget passage. There has never been a correlation between voters feelings about the direction of the state and the passage of the state budget; in fact, he added, the "wrong track" numbers are the highest in a decade.
Concern is especially strong Upstate, where 73 percent of voters think the state is going in the wrong direction. In New York City and its suburbs, the percentage of respondents who said the state is not moving in the right direction was lower: 58 percent and 56 percent, respectively.
More important than when lawmakers pass a budget is what they do to improve the economy, Lanne said.
“The major factor affecting voters’ outlook continues to be the state economy,” he said. “Perceptions of the state’s economy drive overall feelings regarding the direction of the state—especially in Upstate New York.
“Don’t expect a dramatic improvement in the mood of the electorate until economic concerns have dissipated.”
Lanne also said his analysis also shows that:
- Voters are unlikely to want to reward political leaders for
producing an on-time budget because they feel that doing so “is
akin to meeting the minimum requirements of the job. “State
leaders should avoid claiming ‘victory’ on this year’s
budget passage,” he advised.
- Reform themes will be important in the 2006 elections as they
were last November, but voters will again be looking beyond process
reforms to more substantive policy changes.
“Running on Albany reform alone will not cut it,” Lanne said. “Successful candidates in the upcoming election need to talk about the ‘three E’s’—the economy, education, and the elderly, especially in the areas farthest away from Albany.