CBS Poll: Happy Days For Hill

New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is feeling the pinch of bad poll numbers in the latest CBS News-New York Times Poll on New York's U.S. Senate race.

Fallout from the mayor's handling of the police shooting of Patrick Dorismond, an unarmed black man, may have hurt Giuliani's Senate prospects against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Poor perceptions of the Republican mayor's response to that controversy, declining positive assessments of his personal qualities and what had been thought of as his strengths in reducing crime and managing New York City (especially among whites and upstate voters) put him behind Democrat Clinton in voter preference for the first time in a year. Giuliani's loss of support in the Senate race is especially severe among upstate voters, while in the city the mayor receives his lowest job approval rating ever.


In the current poll, overall assessments of Clinton have risen as the mayor's have slipped. In addition, 61 percent of voters say she has done a good job balancing the demands of being first lady with her Senate candidacy. She now leads the mayor among likely voters, 49 percent to 41 percent - her first clear lead in a year.

Senate Choice

  Now Feb. 2000 Oct. 1999
Hillary Clinton 49% 44% 42%

Rudy Giuliani 41% 46% 46%

Her lead comes from an especially strong showing in Giuliani's own city, where she continues to get about two-thirds of the vote. She has also pulled even with Giuliani upstate. Two months ago, Giuliani led Clinton upstate 52 percent to 36 percent. But, the mayor still holds onto a nearly 20-point edge in the New York suburbs.

Gender differences and racial differences in this contest continue. Women give the first lady a double-digit lead in support. But her biggest gains are from men, who now are as likely to say they will vote for Clinton as to say they will vote for Giuliani. More than 90 percent of black voters support Clinton, unchanged from two months ago. Giuliani's lead with white voters has been cut in half. Although nine in ten likely voters have a candidate preference in this race, nearly all of those who say they are still undecided are white.


While most voters are committed to their choice of candidates, there is evidence in this poll that Clinton's supporters may be more content with their choice than the supporters of the mayor are with theirs. More of Clinton's voters than Giuliani's say they strongly support their candidate, while fewer say they wish there were other candidates running. At this still-early stage, more than one in four voters say they are following this election closely, more than said so just a month before the vote in the Schumer-D'Amato election two years ago.

The increasing concern about the mayor as the Republican Senate candidate has yet to result in a groundswell for any other candidate. Most of those who want other candidates (including 50 percent of Giuliani supporters) can't name anyone specific. Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio, who once considered running, is cited by just 2 percent of voters. However, that's more than any other person. Most voters are unfamiliar with Lazio. When asked their opinion of him, only one in ten voters have one.


Voters continue to feel that in terms of personality and temperament, Giuliani may not be suited for the Senate. Voters have consistently given Clinton the advantage on getting along and working with other members of the Senate. In addition, Clinton, not Giuliani, offers voters the kind of senator they want: someone who's willing to compromise.

Giuliani's image has been steadily worsening since he became the likely Republican nominee for Senate. In March of 1999, only one-quarter of voters viewed Giuliani negatively, while currently over one-third do. Giuliani's favorable ratings have dropped 7 points since February. Giuliani's negatives have increased across the board, with voters from all regions of the state and all demographic groups viewing him more negatively over the past year.

View of Giuliani

  Now Feb. 2000 Oct. 1999 Mar. 1999
Favorable 32% 39% 39% 34%

Unfavorable 39% 36% 34% 28%

In contrast, Hillary Clinton's numbers are improving. While not matching the high of 52 percent favorable she enjoyed in the state last March, currently around four in ten voters view her favorably. Fewer than a third view her unfavorably, and her negative assessments are now the lowest seen this year. In addition, increasing numbers of voters express generally positive sentiments towards Clinton when asked the first thing that comes to mind about her.

View of Clinton

  Now Feb. 2000 Oct. 1999 Mar. 1999
Favorable 39% 39% 37% 52%

Unfavorable 31% 37% 38% 22%

Most voters say Clinton has done a good job separating her role as first lady from her role as Senate candidate. She gets positive ratings on this pretty much across the board - from a majority of voters in New York City, the suburbs and upstate, and from both men and women.

Voters feel Giuliani has been running a negative, attack campaign against Clinton, while they feel Clinton has been spending more time explaining her positions than attacking Giuliani. Around half of voters feel that Giuliani has spent more time attacking Clinton that explaining his positions to the voters. But well over half think that Clinton has been spending more time explaining than attacking Giuliani.


The mayor's reaction to the Dorismond shooting has not helped his image. Strikingly, New Yorkers' approval of how Giuliani is handling crime in New York City has dropped precipitously - nearly 20 points since mid-February. Although 52 percent of New York state residents still approve of the job Giuliani is doing handling crime, it is a far cry from the 71 percent who approved just six weeks ago. Giuliani has not traditionally been given high marks for handling race relations, but now for the first time statewide, a majority of voters disapprove of the job he's been doing with race relations: 5 percent disapprove while only 29 percent approve.

In New York City, Giuliani's overall job approval rating is the lowest it's ever been in the CBS News-New York Times Poll -- only 32 percent of New York City residents currently approve of the job the Mayor is doing.

Giuliani Job Approval In New York City

  Now 3/97 6/94
Approve 32% 54% 49%

Disapprove 62% 32% 31%

The public has negative things to say about the way both Clinton and Giuliani have reacted to the Dorismond situation, but more people are negative about Giuliani's reaction. Fifty-eight percent of voters think the mayor's response to the situation has made things worse, and only 11 percent think he has made things better.

Even those who say they will vote for Giuliani in November have doubts about how he has handled this incident - 36 percent think his response has made the situation worse and only 18 percent think he has helped the situation. And when asked the first thing that comes to mind when they hear his name, voters in this poll were somewhat more likely to mention things like racism, police brutality and Giuliani's dictatorial style, as well as generally negative sentiments, than they were last October.

Although a majority of voters say Giuliani's handling of the Dorismond case will have no effect on whether or not they will support him in November, it is more likely to cost the mayor votes than to win him any. About a third of voters (including roughly one in ten current Giuliani supporters) say that Giuliani's response has made them less likely to vote for him.

Clinton suffers no similar disapproval for her reaction to the Dorismond incident. The public is evenly divided as to whether her response made things better or worse, and four in ten aren't sure what impact her response has had. Those who say they will vote for her in November tend to think her response has either improved the situation or don't know what impact it has had. Very few voters say that her reaction has made them less likely to vote for her in November.

The mayor also may be paying a price for publicly releasing Dorismond's criminal record, including his confidential juvenile record. An overwhelming 71 percent of voters think Dorismond's record should not have been made public.

About half of New York state residents have been paying attention to this incident. In New York City, that figure rises to around six in ten. As would be expected, blacks in particular have been closely watching these events.

Although New Yorkers are divided as to whether this event was understandable or not, almost no one thinks the shooting of Dorismond was justified. Fifty-eight percent of those in New York City think there was no excuse for how the police officer acted.


By a margin of over six to one New York voters prefer a senator who would be willing to compromise on what they believe, in order to get things done, to a senator who would not be willing to compromise their beliefs. Only 36 percent of voters think Giuliani would be willing to compromise if he were elected, while half think he would not be willing to compromise. At the same time, over three-quarters of voters think that Clinton would be willing to compromise if she were senator.

Voters still giv Giuliani an advantage on experience: 65 percent believe he has the right kind of experience to be a good senator, while only half of voters think that Clinton has the right kind of experience.


Voters are also unsure whether Giuliani is the kind of candidate who brings groups together, or the kind that divides them. Voters are evenly split over whether, in his campaign, Giuliani has been bringing different groups of New Yorkers together or whether he has been dividing them: 38 percent say each. Clinton, on the other hand, is seen as a unifier: 68 percent of voters think she is bringing New Yorkers together in her campaign.

In general, voters have become less likely to think that Giuliani cares about their needs and problems. Currently, 47 percent of voters say they think Giuliani does not care about the needs and problems of people like themselves, while only 42 percent think he does, a turnaround from just February. Fifty-nine percent of voters believe that Clinton cares about their needs and problems - a number virtually unchanged over the past year.

When asked whether Giuliani cares about the needs and problems of blacks, voters are divided - 39 percent say he does, 39 percent feel he does not. Specifically, a 48 percent plurality of whites feel that Giuliani cares about blacks, but only 7 percent of blacks feel that way. On this measure especially, Giuliani suffers in comparison to Clinton: 75 percent and 59 percent of blacks and whites respectively think that Clinton cares about the needs and problems of African-Americans.

The CBS News-New York Times Poll was conducted among a New York statewide sample of 1,573 adults interviewed by telephone April 1-5, 2000. The sample includes 1,207 registered voters, and 1,032 likely voters. Likely voters are defined as registered voters who either voted for president in 1996, or voted in the 1998 congressional elections. This likely voter group reflects the typical distribution of the statewide vote from New York City, the suburbs and the rest of the state. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample and the samples of registered and likely voters.