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NY1 News Poll: Most NYers Want Public To Vote On Term Limits

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While the City Council got an earful today on the term limits issue, NY1 conducted a wide-ranging poll on the topic and it indicates that New Yorkers definitely want a say. NY1’s Elizabeth Kaledin filed the following report.

When it comes to extending term limits, an exclusive NY1 News poll released Thursday found that three-quarters of polled New Yorkers want to decide on the issue in a referendum.

“The absolute headline in this poll is that three-quarters of the voters say let us be the ones to decide,” said pollster Mickey Blum of Baruch College.

The poll asked, “Who do you think should decide whether term limits should be changed?” A vast majority - 75 percent - said the voters should decide in a referendum. Only 10 percent said the city council should decide and 14 percent said it doesn't make a difference.

“I think that again, if we have a really good mayor in office, and he’s doing really wonderful things for the city, that if he can win again, more power to him,” said a voter.

New Yorkers have approved the idea of term limits in two separate elections, and they continue to think it is good policy by a margin of 2-to-1.

When the poll asked, “In general, do you favor or oppose setting limits on the number of years city elected officials can hold office,” 62 percent were in favor while 33 percent said they opposed the idea.

However, when it came to the specifics of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan, the numbers reveal that New Yorkers are much more conflicted.

Fifty percent say they oppose his plan, while 44 percent say they are in favor of the mayor's quest to allow elected officials to run for a third consecutive term. Given the margin of error of four percentage points, it’s a statistically insignificant difference:

“We found the city is divided on the issue of the mayor's specific bill to extend to three terms instead of two terms, people are quite divided on this,” said Blum.

Despite Mayor Bloomberg's popularity and the city's current economic woes, New Yorkers surveyed did not believe extending term limits should be a special privilege just for him:

The poll asked, “Would you want to extend term limits only for the mayor and not for the City Council?” While 39 percent said only the Mayor should benefit, 55 percent said extended terms should be available for more than just the mayor.

“People believe in a democratic process and this would seem to them to not be appropriate, to extend term limits one time for one office for one person,” said Blum. “That would not be the way they want to see it done… even though they love the mayor...and they do love the mayor.”

Friday's poll will concern the mayor's approval rating and whether his bid for a third term is hurting his image.

POLL RESULTS

1. Generally speaking, do you favor or oppose setting limits on the number of years city elected officials can hold office?

Favor62%
Oppose33%
Not sure/Refused6%

2. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed extending term limits so that he and other city officials, including the City Council, can run for a third consecutive four-year term. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?

Favor44%
Oppose50%
Not sure--%
Refuse6%

3. Would you want to extend term limits to 3 terms if it were only for the mayor and not for the City Council?

Yes, mayor only39%
No, not mayor only55%
Not sure5%
Refuse1%

4. Who do you think should decide whether term limits should be changed?

City Council10%
Voters in a referendum75%
Or does it make no difference to you?14%
Not sure1%


Methodology

626 NYC Registered Voters MoE= +/- 4 percentage points

Random telephone poll by Baruch Survey Research at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs

Term Limits– Overview: Memo by NY1 Pollster Mickey Blum

• Let the people decide. Three-quarters (75%) of New York voters say they should decide term limits on a referendum—not the council. One-quarter say council (10%) or not matter (14%).

• By nearly 2 to 1 margin (62%-33%) city voters favor term limits for city elected officials.

• However, voters are more divided on the mayor’s proposal to extend limits from 2-3 terms (50% oppose/44% favor).

• Majority oppose to having limits extended for the mayor only (55% not only for mayor/ 39% say okay if mayor only).

• There is overwhelming agreement that voters should decide the issue in a referendum, irrespective of demographics, borough, party or even opinion of the mayor or term limits in general.

• A smaller majority – but again a clear majority –approves of term limits in general. Again there is agreement across the demographic, geographic and opinion spectrum.

• On the specific bill proposed by the mayor, city voters are divided. Half oppose (50%) while almost as many favor the bill (44%). The bill is favored by white voters, Manhattanites, and those of higher socioeconomic status. Black voters are most opposed to the bill.

• Voters who approve of the mayor approve of the bill (55%) , while those who disapprove are most opposed (86% of those who disapprove of the Mayor oppose the bill).

• A majority of voters would not want the limits extended only for the mayor. Of those who approve of the mayor’s proposal only a third (34%) would favor extending limits exclusively for the mayor.

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