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May 5, 2005

Political consultant: New Yorkers want substantive policy changes, and consider an on-time budget necessary but not sufficient

A new analysis of New York State polling data suggests that New Yorkers in general and Upstaters in particular do not consider state lawmakers’ on-time budget in 2005 meaningful progress in improving the state, but are waiting instead for substantive policy changes that will improve the economy.

“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: