Tuesday, February 5, 2013


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Upstate voters evenly divided on fracking,but opponents are “more passionate” poll shows

LOUDONVILLE - New Yorkers remain divided on the issue of hydrofracking and Southern Tier residents are just as split, according to a new Siena College Research Institute poll of New York voters released today. When asked initially, voters statewide are evenly divided with 40 percent in support of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) allowing fracking to move forward in parts of upstate and 40 percent opposed (40-44 percent last month), with 47 percent of Southern Tier voters supportive and 48 percent opposed. After reviewing arguments in support and opposition to fracking and limitations on fracking that DEC could impose, 45 percent of voters statewide support fracking and 42 percent are opposed (50-46 percent among voters in the Southern Tier).

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s rating slipped a little with voters. Currently, 67 percent of voters have a favorable view of Cuomo and 29 percent view him unfavorably (down from 71-24 percent last month). His 58-41 percent job performance rating is down slightly from 60-38 percent. And 56 percent of voters are prepared to re-elect him, while 36 percent would prefer someone else (down from 60-32 percent). By a better than two-to-one margin (65-30 percent) voters support the state’s new gun law, with 56 percent saying the law was needed and the right thing to do, while 42 percent say it was rushed through without adequate consideration.

“With DEC expected to soon issue a decision on whether or not to allow fracking to move forward, voters across the state remain evenly divided, and voters in the Southern Tier – the area that makes up the majority of the Marcellus Shale in New York – are also evenly divided on the issue,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg.

“The Governor is in a position that chief executives hate: making a decision on a controversial issue where voters are split down the middle”, Greenberg said.  “Unlike his position on guns, which angered a vocal minority, Cuomo’s decision on fracking is likely to anger far more voters – no matter what he decides.  However, fracking opponents will be much more upset if it moves forward than fracking supporters will be if it does not.”

If fracking moves forward, 88 percent of opponents will be upset, including 54 percent who will be very upset. If fracking does not move ahead, 59 percent of supporters will be upset, including 20 percent who will be very upset.

“By better than two-to-one margins, a plurality of voters agrees with three statements that highlight the potential negative environmental impacts of hydrofracking”, Greenberg said. “However, a majority of voters overwhelmingly agrees with two statements highlighting potential economic benefits of hydrofracking,  While Southern Tier voters are much more likely to have read or heard about hydrofracking, and more likely to have opinions on the statements in support or opposition to fracking, their views on these statements don’t differ substantially from the views expressed by voters from the rest of upstate or across the state.”