View Full Version : New Yorkers' Growing Pessimism

June 12th, 2003, 09:21 PM
June 12, 2003

New Yorkers Have Growing Pessimism About the City


Dispirited by job losses, tax increases and service cuts, New Yorkers say they are increasingly pessimistic about their city, according to the latest New York Times poll.

Those negative feelings appear to have tainted New Yorkers' views of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Only 24 percent of those polled said they approved of the job he was doing, the lowest approval rating for a mayor since The Times began asking about mayoral performance in 1978. It is a drop of 7 percentage points since January.

By almost every measure, city residents have a gloomy view of the economy, the quality of life in the city and New York's prospects. Asked to rate the condition of the city's economy, 73 percent said it was bad or fairly bad, and 62 percent said that its condition had taken a personal toll on their lives.

Sixty percent said that they thought life in the city had gotten worse in the last year, compared with 43 percent of respondents in a January poll.

The findings represent a sharp turnabout in how New Yorkers view their city and their own lives within its boundaries. For example, less than a month after the World Trade Center attack in 2001, 54 percent thought that the city would be a better place to live in 10 to 15 years. A month before the attack, New Yorkers were giving the city some of its highest marks in 25 years.

Among those polled last week, only 30 percent said they believed that New York City would be a better place to live in 10 to 15 years.

"They're raising subway fares, they're raising rents, the jobs are decreasing," said Belinda Butler, who was laid off from her job as an office manager six months ago. Ms. Butler, 25, was reinterviewed after the poll was taken. "I do see that the number of jobs available is shrinking, and I see the same positions at lower rates, but it costs more to live in the city, and that doesn't really help."

Concerns about crime historically a high priority among New Yorkers have taken a back seat to the economy. Of those polled, 19 percent said they would like to see Mayor Bloomberg concentrate on unemployment, and only 5 percent wanted his attention turned to crime. In June 2002, 17 percent said they wanted the mayor to concentrate on crime, and only 6 percent called for a focus on unemployment.

The citywide telephone poll was conducted among 962 adults last Friday through Tuesday. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Those polled appeared to link their opinions of the mayor to their own financial problems. For example, among the 59 percent of respondents who said that it is harder to make ends meet than a year ago, 74 percent disapproved of Mr. Bloomberg's performance. And among those who said the proposed budget cuts would hurt them personally, only 18 percent approved of the job Mr. Bloomberg is doing.

Follow-up interviews with people surveyed indicated that respondents seemed offended both by the measures Mr. Bloomberg has taken to balance the city's budget, as well as his personal style, which tends to be nonconfrontational, non-self promoting and generally enigmatic. And his reputation as an outsider by birth or his income bracket appeared to persist.

"He's not a New Yorker, and he's not a fighter," said Stephanie Wilson, 50, who lives in the Bronx. "You have to be crazy to run this town because we're a bunch of crazy people," Ms Wilson said. "You've got to kick down doors. Rudy's crazy, and he was effective. Bloomberg doesn't have the gusto to really deal with issues in an aggressive manner."

New Yorkers seem to take displeasure in every move taken by the mayor and the state legislature to face down billions of dollars in red ink; 70 percent of those polled disapprove of the way the mayor had handled a roughly $4 billion budget gap.

For instance, those polled were asked about their priorities for city services. The largest group, 30 percent, said they would protect firehouses. In second place were classroom aides in public schools, and a police anti-drug program came in third. Only 9 percent said their top priority would be to put off reductions in garbage pickups, and only 7 percent called for preserving library hours. Yet those two services were the ones restored to the budget last week by Mr. Bloomberg.

Service cuts were unpopular, and few tax increases drew cheers. Fifty-nine percent of those polled believe that a New York state tax increase on people in high income brackets was reasonable, but only 34 percent thought the city's recent sales tax increase was reasonable. And 74 percent disapproved of the city's 18.5 percent increase in the property tax.

While 22 percent said raising taxes was their preferred method of budget balancing, 46 percent said the city should borrow its way out of its troubles.

The mayor's spokesman, Edward Skyler, said Mr. Bloomberg was making the tough choices about taxes and spending. "Leadership is about doing what is right, not what is easy or popular," he said. "Under his leadership, crime keeps coming down, the schools are being fixed, housing is being built, jobs are returning and the city is staying a place where people want to live and work."

Clearly, many New Yorkers believe that much of the fate of the city's economy is in the hands of the mayor, even though outside forces like Wall Street and the state and federal governments play a major role. Fifty-three percent of those polled said they believed that the city economy was something that the mayor can "do a lot about."

City residents gave Gov. George E. Pataki a 42 percent approval rating, a far cry from the 82 percent approval rating he received in the city a month after the trade center attack, but far from his lowest rate ever. And while the governor did not get high marks for his role in the city's budget, it is clear more people blame the mayor.

"I feel like the state government has less to do with my life than the city government," said Takemasa Kurita, 27, a graduate student from Astoria who was upset about the loss of the city's recycling program and the cuts to teacher's aides. "The things that Bloomberg is proposing are different from what Giuliani was proposing, and Pataki was in office then as well, so I think these new changes are Bloomberg changes."

Although Mr. Bloomberg has made some attempts to forge close relations with minority New Yorkers, this poll did not show his efforts paying off. For instance, his approval rating among whites is 31 percent, but only 15 percent among black respondents and 19 percent among Hispanic residents.

Blacks cared more than whites about the city's unemployment rate, and that group reported a far higher rate than whites of joblessness in their households.

But even though Mr. Bloomberg could hardly be pleased with this poll results, it is too soon to write him off as a one-term mayor. For example, President Reagan's lowest approval number t 35 percent was in January 1983 during poor economic times, yet two years later, he won a second term by a landslide.

Further, the bench of potential Democratic challengers to Mr. Bloomberg appears less than sinewy at this point, with few fresh faces and no one with a comparable financial war chest. However, Mr. Bloomberg's contention that people dislike him because of the economy he inherited and not for other more personal or undefinable reasons would be tested if the the city's fiscal shape improves.

But just like the mayor, most people 55 percent said they planned to stay in New York in the coming years. This is slightly more than in January, when people were less gloomy about the economy.

"I've lived here all my life," said Kendrick Stovall, a 39-year-old truck driver from Brooklyn. "I've been to England, out of the country, I've been places, and even though you think that New York is so sickening, and dirty, and disgusting, there's no other place that you'd want to live."

Poll Results (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/politics/20030613_poll/20030613poll-results.html)

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 13th, 2003, 10:27 AM
Again, they forgot to ask peoples' opinion of the smoking ban.

Would it be possible for Bloomberg to just throw in the towel and resign at this point? I really don't buy all this talk about how he's going to bounce back in the polls. The man is hated with good reason.

June 13th, 2003, 03:10 PM
Don't worry about it too much, at the way things are going, either he will be defeated in the next election or will choose not to run for a second term. At least that's what I predict.

June 13th, 2003, 05:39 PM
I hope you're right. Here's an entertaining bit from today's Daily News:

I'd whip Bill, mayor boasts

Mayor Moneybags to Bubba: Eat my dust!

Responding to media speculation that former President Bill Clinton *might run for mayor in 2005, Bloomberg declared, "I will get reelected."

"I welcome lots of competition. If President Clinton wants to run for mayor, I can tell him it's a very challenging job. But it's a great job. And I would recommend it to anybody," Bloomberg said.

However, the mayor added, "I sort of recommend that he thinks about it for the next six years, because he'd have a tough time winning before that."

Jim Kennedy, Clinton's communications director, said the former President is not contemplating a mayoral bid.

"He's very happy living in Westchester County and very happy being in Harlem working on his foundation, dealing with AIDS (news - web sites) treatment, economic empowerment and other issues, so running for mayor is not something he's considering," Kennedy said.

Still, he refused to rule out the possibility of Clinton running for mayor in 2005.

Upbeat, somehow

Bloomberg was optimistic yesterday about his reelection chances - even though his approval rating has plummeted to 24%, according to a New York Times poll to be released today.

"I'll be very comfortable in putting my record against anybody else's promises next election for mayor, and I will get reelected," he said.

Asked whether he considered himself to be more qualified to be mayor than Clinton, Bloomberg said: "If foreign policy was a bigger part of [being mayor], then his skills would certainly be useful.

"But when it comes to the day-in-and-day-out of running a city, I think the skills that I have have shown this city is getting good leadership."

Even Sen. Hillary Clinton wasn't immune from Bloomberg's tough talk yesterday. The mayor said he doesn't plan to read her recently published memoirs. "It's not the kind of book that I really have time to read," he said.

Tale of the tape

Bill Clinton

Age: 56

Height: 6-feet-2

Income: Gets $100,000-plus per speech; still paying off Whitewater and Monicagate legal bills.

Ever smoked pot? "I experimented with marijuana a time or two. And I didn't like it, and didn't inhale, and never tried it again."

Food cravings: Burgers

Favorite flick: "High Noon"

Position on tobacco: Love of cigars well-documented in Starr Report

Romantic status: Married to Sen. Hillary Clinton; wishes he had never heard of Monica Lewinsky.

Mike Bloomberg

Age: 61

Height: 5-feet-6 (5-feet-10 on his driver's license)

Income: Draws $1 salary as mayor; net worth close to $5 billion. Ever smoked pot? "You bet I did. And I liked it."

Food cravings: Hot dogs

Favorite flick: "Blazing Saddles"

Position on tobacco: Banned smoking in bars and restaurants

Romantic status: Dating future Banking Department superintendent Diana Taylor; wishes he could meet Jennifer Lopez. Originally published on June 13, 2003

TLOZ Link5
June 13th, 2003, 07:26 PM
Come the end of the recession, I'm sure that things will get much better. *We're already starting to turn around, anyway.

October 27th, 2006, 01:19 PM
I know this is an old thread but just curiouse if sentiments are still the same (pessimism), in New York City.:cool:

October 27th, 2006, 01:43 PM
this is really outdated, the recession mentioned in that one is over and we have been in a growth period, but we are heading into another reccesion now