Half of New Yorkers Considering Leaving – Cite a Broken Political System and Crime as Top Issues; Support for Structural Reforms Including Term Limits is Sky High

Albany, NY – Half of New York State voters believe the state’s political environment is on the wrong track, and 51% are considering leaving the state, according to the latest Voter Empowerment Index (VEI) from the independent, nonpartisan reform organization Unite NY. The good news is that the survey identified strong bipartisan support for structural reforms such as term limits and initiative and referendum, which could help reverse this worsening trend.

The survey, done in March in conjunction with Citizen Data, polled 822 likely New York State voters on their attitudes towards present-day politics and political reforms. The margin of error is 3.4 percent.

The major findings of the first VEI of 2023 include the strong voter dissatisfaction referenced above. In addition to anger over the state’s broken system, the survey found that the top issue, regardless of political ideology and geography, is crime, with 53% agreeing that addressing crime and public safety is the state’s top issue. The only demographic where crime is not the top issue is New Yorkers aged 18-34, who list affordable housing as their top concern.

New Yorkers agree that the state’s political system needs reform, with only nine percent saying the state is ahead of the curve when compared to other states that have implemented election reforms. Nearly two in five voters (37%) believe the state has fallen behind other states that have reformed their election processes.

While the findings are bleak, the good news is that 49% of respondents believe that politics in New York are “fixable” vs. 33% who think politics are broken beyond repair. When polled on specific reforms that could be enacted to fix these problems, the response was bipartisan and overwhelmingly positive, with term limits as the most popular reform New Yorkers support.

77% of respondents support term limits for Governor and other statewide elected officials, and 75% support term limits for the state legislature. Interestingly, nearly 2/3 of respondents (63%) who expressed extreme favorability for the Governor also held the strongest level of support for term limits for the office. Likewise, two-thirds (66%) of the strongest supporters of the state legislature support term limits for members of the Senate and Assembly.

Unite NY Founder Martin Babinec said, “The results of the VEI are clear, New Yorkers are not happy with their government, and this dissatisfaction is even greater than the levels we measured in last year’s Voter Empowerment Index. There is a road map to repairing New York, but the state’s elected officials will need to look objectively at what voters are saying and be willing to enact reforms popular with people across the political spectrum to fix this broken trust.”

The survey found wide, bipartisan support among New Yorkers for a majority of the political reforms considered, including:

ReformPercent Support
Term Limits for Governor77%
Term Limits for State Legislature75%
Citizen Ballot Initiatives68%
Open Primaries66%
Ranked Choice Voting49%

The entire poll is available on the Voter Empowerment Index section of the Unite NY website, including:

About Unite NY

Unite NY is a movement focused on engaging and empowering voters on important issues of reform that will allow for more voices and more choices, and ultimately, more democracy. The membership organization seeks a more fair, open, and representative democracy that results in the voice of voters being heard by evolving the electoral system so that officials put what voters want ahead of party interests. Learn more at www.UniteNY.org.