New York City voters give their leaders high marks for dealing with Hurricane Sandy, but it was the governor of New Jersey who won the highest accolades, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Tuesday.
New Yorkers continue to deal with the after-effects of the superstorm that made landfall at the end of last month and the cleanup and restoration of much of metropolitan New York is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars. Not surprisingly, those New Yorkers living outside Manhattan said by a majority of 51% to 41% that the central borough was favored by government and relief agencies, while those living in Manhattan said they weren’t favored by a narrow 47%-44% margin, the poll found.
It often takes a crisis like a major storm and the subsequent fallout to shake the political spectrum. President George W. Bush never recovered from Katrina and in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg hit his lowest approval ratings after the city had a hard time coping with a Christmas holiday blizzard two years ago. Bloomberg has bounced back in his handling of the Sandy situation and 75% of his city’s voters rated him good or excellent, according to the poll.
[For the record, 10:13 a.m., Nov. 20: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that President George H.W. Bush never recovered from Katrina.]
Even with that high a number, Bloomberg was easily eclipsed by how voters felt about the other major leaders’ response. A full 89% of New York City voters said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s response was “excellent” or “good,” with, 85% saying the same for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Obama.
Asked who did the best job, Christie, who distributed hugs and supplies to those in need for weeks, was at 36%, more than double the 15% of Cuomo, a possible presidential contender in 2016 along with Christie. Obama, who shared one of those clasps with Christie in an embrace important for its politics, was at 22% and Bloomberg at 15%.
“The storm of the century brings out the best in Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New Yorkers say. But that love fest between New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie and President Barack Obama seems to have moved voters especially,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “While all four leaders get very high marks -- it seems a hug or two never hurts.”
The survey is based on telephone calls to 1,165 New York City voters between Nov. 14 and 18. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
Christie’s leadership style has long been a question. The Republican governor has gained fame, friends and some enemies for his pugnacious responses at town hall meetings. His political embrace of Obama was not unexpected, given the need to deal with federal relief agencies during a time of crisis, but it left some Republican activists dismayed that it came during a fiercely fought presidential race.
For example, Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp., whose Fox television network is a frequent stop for GOP hopefuls, sent out a warning on Twitter that Christie had best reemphasize his support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney or take the blame.
According to the New York Times, Christie told Murdoch that amid the devastation, New Jersey needed friends, no matter their political party, according to people briefed on the discussion. The next day, Christie reaffirmed his support of Romney, who was defeated by Obama.