Gov. Kathy Hochul has faced her share of challenges since winning a full term in November with a high-profile fight with her own party in the state Senate over her nominee to lead the state's top court.
But a Siena College poll released Monday found a majority of voters approve of the job she's doing as governor, receiving the highest marks yet in the survey.
At the same time, her agenda of opposing tax increases in the budget, linking the minimum wage to the rate of inflation and making changes to New York's law limiting cash bail is popular with voters in New York across all parties, the poll found.
Hochul is set to further outline her agenda in the coming days with a state budget proopsal that is expected to pass before April, when the state's fiscal year begins.
She'll be outlining the specifics of the spending plan against the backdrop of an ongoing battle with Democrats in the state Senate over her selection to become chief judge of the Court of Appeals. Last week, a key Senate committee rejected Justice Hector LaSalle's nomination; Hochul has not ruled out a lawsuit to force a floor vote in the state Senate.
But the LaSalle problem in Albany aside, Hochul is starting the new year in a strong position with voters.
The poll found Hochul's job approval stands at 56% to 36%, her best ever since taking office in 2021 after the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Her favorability rating with voters has also inched up in the last month to 48% of voters holding a favorable view and 42% holding an unfavorable view.
Hochul's boost was due in large part to voters in the New York City area well as independents, a bloc of voters she had struggled to gain traction with during her successful election over Republican Lee Zeldin last year.
“Kicking off the 2023 legislative session with her first State of the State address, chock full of proposals that have strong voter support, Hochul sees her job approval rating hit its highest level, jumping from a positive five points last month to a 20-point positive approval rating today. The jump – despite continued strong partisan divide – is largely thanks to independent and downstate voters,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.
The poll found 85% of voters support Hochul's pledge to not raise taxes in the state budget this year, a stance that has put her at odds with progressives who want to hike taxes on the rich once again this year. Not raising taxes has across-the-board support from Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Meanwhile, the governor's proposal to link the state's minimum wage to the rate of inflation has support from 76% of voters in New York, including 88% of Democrats and 57% of Republicans.
Hochul is also once again calling for changes to New York's law that curtailed the use of cash bail for many criminal charges by ending the "least restrictive" standard for when determining whether bail should be set for serious crimes. That proposal has support from 65% of voters, incluiding 68% of Democrats, 61% of Republicans and 63% of independents.
A majority of voters, 61%, continue to call crime in New York a "very serious" problem.
Voters have typically ranked crime and public safety as a top-level priority for elected officials in the state.
There is also broad support for Hochul's proposal to expand paid family for state workers for up to 12 weeks, with 76% of voters backing the idea.
But at the same time, there's skepticism Hochul will be able to make progress on two of her key goals: making New York safer and more affordable.
A majority of voters doubt she will be able to address the rising cost of living, 59% to 25%. And a plurality of voters, 45% to 36%, do not think she will be able to make the state safer. A similar plurality have doubts about her ability to improve the mental health system, the poll found.
And 49% of voters believe New York is heading down the wrong track, with 39% believing it is on the right track.
Voters in New York, a Democratic-heavy state, are also split over President Joe Biden: 49% hold a favorable view of him, 47% of voters do not.
In Congress, voters want Republican Rep. George Santos out of office, according to the poll, amid multiple revelations he lied about his resume and life story.
The poll found two-thirds of Democrats, 59% of independent voters and a plurality of Republicans at 49% want Santos gone. Only 17% of voters believe he should not resign. Suburban voters want him to leave office by a 56 percentage point margin, 71% to 15%.
The poll of 821 registered voters was conducted from Jan. 15 to Jan. 19. It has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.