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Poll: Hizzoner Higher'n Hillary

The Senate horserace is close, according to a new CBS News/New York Times Poll of New York state, but New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani may have a slight edge in an election where most likely voters say their minds won't change over a year before the actual vote.


Giuliani 49%

Clinton 44%

Six months ago, shortly after her husband's acquittal by the Senate and well before the campaign heated up, Mrs. Clinton led Giuliani 50 percent to 41 percent among likely voters.

Likely voters are divided between the First Lady and the Mayor. While Hillary strongly carries New York City, the suburbs and upstate go to Giuliani.


  NY City Suburbs Upstate

Giuliani 34% 59% 54%

Clinton 59 38 38

Both of the two as yet unannounced candidates seem to polarize voters. As a result, voter preferences are relatively set even at this early date. Two-thirds of voters with a preference say their minds are made up. Less than a third say their minds could change.

Only around a third of each candidate's supporters would even consider voting for the other candidate, although here again Giuliani has an edge: 36 percent of Clinton's supporters would consider Giuliani, and 30 percent of Giuliani voters would consider voting for Clinton.

The traditional partisan gender gap holds in this race in the vote, men prefer Giuliani while women go for Hillary. Fifty-two percent of likely women voters prefer Hillary, while 55 percent of men prefer Giuliani.

The poll finds that two-thirds of New York state residents prefer that candidates listen to voters' concerns rather than have them explain their own political positions to the voters -- an apparent endorsement of Hillary Clinton's listening tour.

As for injecting the President into the campaign, 73 percent say Bill Clinton's various scandals are out of bounds as a campaign issue in the Senate race. At the same time, however, registered voters divide over whether the investigations into Hillary such as Whitewater and Travelgate are fair game. 46 percent say they are, 46 percent say they are not.


There is a balance in perceptions of the candidates that mirrors the division in the vote. On issues, the First Lady tops Giuliani on health care and education the top two issues for New Yorkers right now while Giuliani is much preferred on the issue of crime.


  HRC Giuliani

Health Care 63% 22

Education 60% 27

Crime 15% 75

Voters are divided over who is better suited for the Senate: Giuliani is seen as having better experience for the job (67 percent say he has the right kind of experience, while 44 percent say that Hillary does), and they give him the edge in getting things done for New York (69 percent to 59 percent), but voters (by 53 percent to 32 percent) believe Clinton would get along better in the collegial world of the Senate than Giuliani would.

For the most part, voters feel that Giuliani cares more about their own part of the state (although upstate voters are divided) but overall, they believe Clinton cares more about their personal needs and problems, and is more likely to represent their views. And despite the various scandals that have troubled the Clinton White House, both candidates are equally likely to be viewed as having more honesty and integrity than most people in public life.

Mrs. Clinton also scores on the Brooklyn Museum of Art controversy. Voters agree more with her argument that the government shouldn't tell museums what to display than they agree with the New York City Mayor's attempts to withhold funds from offensive displays -- 58 percent to 34 percent.

The carpetbagger issue is real, though many New Yorkers seem willing to overlook it. Half of New York's registered voters feel Mrs. Clinton can accurately represent the state, even though she has not lived there for many years, but just 27 percent consider her and the President to be residents even though they have purchased a home in Westchester.

Overall, voters are divided in their opinions of both candidates. Both Clinton and Giuliani receive unfavorable ratings roughly equal to their favorable ratings.


  Favorable Unfavorable

Giuliani 39% 34

Clinton 37% 38

Part of the high negatives may stem from the belief that neither Clinton nor Giuliani are seeking the Daniel Patrick Moynihan's Senate seat because they really want to represent the interests of the people of New York. Only 43 percent say this is why Giuliani is running and even fewer, 35 percent, believe this about the First Lady.


Residents statewide approve of the job Giuliani is doing as mayor in general, and on crime. But they are less happy with Giuliani's performance on education and race relations. They divide evenly on education: 36 percent approval to 38 percent disapproval. And just 37 percent approve of his handling of race relations (39 percent overall and 79 percent of blacks disapprove).

In the city, Giuliani's overall job approval has risen since last measured in March, during the aftermath of the Diallo shooting.

New Yorkers overwhelmingly approve of how Hillary Clinton has played her role as First Lady: 76 percent approval to only 18 percent disapproval.


Gore currently leads Bradley in the Democratic primary race, but only marginally: 42 percent to 37 percent. Gore does better among women and conservative Democrats.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush dominates the Republican presidential primary in New York, just as he does nationally. He leads his closest competitor, John McCain, by more than 4 to 1 (59 percent to 13 percent).

For the general election, New Yorkers appear ready to vote Democratic. In a generic party mach-up, with no candidates specified, the Democratic candidate beats the Republican candidate by 44 percent to 32 percent among likely voters.

Bush is a popular candidate, doing much better than his party label would suggest. Gore and Bush tie in specific match-ups, 44 percent to 42 percent respectively, and Bradley, who played for years for the New York Knicks, only marginally beats Bush 45 percent to 39 percent. But only 16 percent of all registered voters are paying a lot of attention at this point.

Bradley is the most popular of the three top presidential contenders, with favorable ratings almost three times his unfavorable ratings. Bush and Gore each receive as many favorable as unfavorable opinions. More of the voters can rate the likely Senate candidates than can rate the presidential candidates.


  Favorable Unfavorable Didn't rate

Bill Bradley 27% 10 63

George W. Bush 22% 21 57

Al Gore 22% 28 49


President Clinton remains popular in New York: over half of voters have a favorable impression of Clinton, and over two-thirds of adults approve of the job he is doing as President.

However, New Yorkers disagree with the President on one thing that has emerged as a New York campaign issue: by 54 percent to 25 percent they disapprove of his giving clemency to members of the FALN. By more than two to one, those who have been following the case oppose granting clemency to Jonathan Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel.

The poll was conducted among a New York statewide sample of 1,315 adults interviewed by telephone October 23-28, 1999. The sample includes 1,026 registered voters, and 895 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 is higher for subgroups. For full question wording and poll findings, please contact the CBS Election and Survey Unit at 212-975-5554.