By STEVE BITTENBENDER
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — A new Siena College Research Institute poll released Wednesday shows Democrats losing support from New York independent and third-party voters.
There are some issues on which those likely voters still find common ground with Democrats, including 63% who oppose the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to overturn a constitutional right to an abortion.
However, 53% of independents and others also oppose the recent decision by President Joe Biden to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt. And when it comes to their preference for holding the majority in Congress next year, those likely voters prefer Democrats by a 46-42 margin. That’s narrowed significantly from August when the gap was 55-40.
Lower support from third-party voters will likely not matter much in New York’s statewide races as Democrats make up nearly half the electorate and hold a 2.5-to-1 voter registration edge over Democrats.
Where it may become a factor is in such races as congressional elections in New York City’s suburbs and upstate regions. According to state voter registration data, 61% of the registered voters are not Democrats in those areas.
Siena pollsters asked 655 likely voters what issues will determine how they vote in the Nov. 8 election. Half of the Republican respondents said the economy was the most critical issue, and 36% of independent and other voters also said the economy. For Democrats, only 18% consider the economy their most pressing issue.
The economy was either the primary or second issue for 69% of Republicans, 59% of others and only 39% of Democrats. The three groups were closer on what was considered the next major issue as 35% of Democrats, 34% of GOP members and 32% of others fear threats to democracy as a motivator for voting.
Other issues did not rank as highly.
“National gun policy, abortion and health care are important but second-tier issues for most voters,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement.
Independents and others also break away from Democrats when it comes to thinking about the direction of New York and the country.
While 58% of Democrats believe the state is on the right track, 56% of others feel the state is going the wrong way. Overall, only 41% of New Yorkers believe the state is on the right path, compared to 47% who do not.
New York Democrats aren’t as sure about the country’s direction, as only 45% believe the U.S. is on the right path, compared to 43% who disagree. Less than a quarter, 24%, of other voters believe America is on the right course, compared to two-thirds who do not.
Overall, only 31% like where the country is headed, compared to 59% who believe it’s going the wrong way.
Conducted from Sept. 16-25, the Siena poll has a 3.9% margin of error.