Politico New York

Updated 11/28/16 01:34 PM


Poll: Voters skeptical of stats showing crime is down

By AZI PAYBARAH

Mayor Bill de Blasio. | Edwin J. Torres/ Mayoral Photo Office

Nearly half the voters in a new survey say they either do not believe statistics from the city government showing crime is declining, or that it doesn’t match with their own experiences, according to a poll commissioned and released by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Respondents were asked whether the stats showing crime declining “are correct” or whether they are “false” and “do not match up with my own experience or the experience of people I know.”

Forty-two percent said the data was “correct” and 47.6 percent said it was “false,” according to a summary of the results, released by McLaughlin & Associates, a nationally recognized polling firm. A little more than 10 percent declined to answer the question. The poll of 500 likely voters was conducted between Nov. 14 and Nov. 16.

The cross-tabs from the poll, which comes about a year before Mayor Bill de Blasio faces voters for re-election, can be seen here and here.

The pollsters do not present the respondents with data to challenge their assumption, as is sometimes done in other polls. For example, there is no effort to measure how much attitudes would change if voters were told that statistics show this year to be one of the safest on record.

The city has strongly denied the claim, made earlier by former police commissioner Ray Kelly, that the city is downplaying actual crime rates.

Austin Finan, a spokesman for the mayor, deviated from the administration's usual line about how polls go up and down, and attacked Monday's poll as a faulty, partisan attack. In a statement, Finan said, "It’s a Republican poll that suspiciously omits the real story: crime’s at an all-time low and this year we’re on pace to record the fewest murders and shootings in city history. You can’t fake that, and we have absolute trust in the NYPD’s performance standards and measurements."

According to the poll, the police department is held in high regard, despite the impression that crime and quality of life are deteriorating. The NYPD has a 69 percent favorability rating and a 73.8 percent job approval rating, according to the survey.

Fifty percent of respondents said “aggressive panhandling and begging” around the city has gotten worse; 41 percent said “the overall quality of life in New York City” is “getting worse;” and 34.8 percent said safety in subways and mass transit has gotten worse.

Forty-eight percent said the city was on the “wrong track” with only 37.2 percent saying it was heading in the “right direction.”

“Affordable housing / rent” was the number one concern, at 18 percent, followed by “crime / violence” at 13 percent — the only two issues in the double digits.

The next closest issues were “homelessness” (8 percent) followed by “cost of living / income inequality” (7.8 percent) and the ambiguously worded “local politician / policies” (also at 7.8 percent).