Poll: Voters like Bloomberg, but ready for change

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a news conference in Manhattan. (Aug. 12, 2013) (Credit: Getty Images)

A majority of likely primary voters in both parties approve of the job Mayor Michael Bloomberg has done -- but most are also ready for new leadership in City Hall after 12 years, according to an amNewYork-News 12 Long Island poll.

"They are saying the guy did a good job, but let's have someone else," pollster Mike Berland concluded. Among the 600 Democrats interviewed Aug. 22-27 by Penn Schoen Berland, 55 percent said they approved of Bloomberg's job performance -- 20 percent strongly and 35 percent somewhat. Of the remainder, 18 percent said they disapprove somewhat, and 24 percent strongly.

Among the 400 Republicans surveyed, his job approval was 66 percent -- 26 percent strongly and 40 percent somewhat. Of the rest, 14 disapproved somewhat, 17 percent strongly.

"Those are very strong numbers for a guy who has made as many tough decisions as he has made," said Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson. "After 12 years, that is very good."

But 56 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats said it was time for a change when asked about continuing Bloomberg's policies.

Third terms are minefields for New York politicians. Mayor Ed Koch, Gov. Mario Cuomo and Sen. Alfonse D'Amato all lost bids for a fourth term, and Gov. George Pataki retired after three. Bloomberg got the City Council to extend term limits five years ago so he could seek re-election in 2009. He leaves Dec. 31.

Among Democrats, Bloomberg won his highest job approval from residents of Manhattan and Queens -- 60 percent each -- and notably, from those calling themselves "very liberal," who gave him 61 percent.

One of the Democrats interviewed was Norma Wilk, 90, of Manhattan's Upper West Side. She said she voted for Bloomberg in the last election and intends to vote for Bill de Blasio this time. She said of the incumbent: "I think, for a billionaire, he's been so charitable and he's been very generous to the city."

But the numbers also tell of a familiar divide along racial lines -- and show a sharp difference between satisfaction with Bloomberg's work product and affection for the man.

His lowest job ratings among Democrats came from African-Americans, who gave him a collective 49 percent approval -- only 11 percent strongly -- and from Bronx residents, with 45 percent approving overall.

Among Republicans -- who are three-quarters white -- his highest total, 76 percent, came from Manhattan; the lowest, 56 percent, from Staten Island.

And, Bloomberg's individual popularity lags well behind his perceived job performance.

A separate question was asked about "individual favorability." Here, Bloomberg came out 52 percent unfavorable among Democrats -- 36 percent strongly, and 16 percent somewhat. Only 15 percent of Democrats had a very favorable view of him; 31 percent somewhat favorable.

Among Republicans, whose line Bloomberg ran on three times and who are outnumbered 6-1 by Democrats in the city, it was 38 percent unfavorable, including 24 percent very and 14 percent somewhat.

But most Republicans viewed Bloomberg as an individual positively, 27 percent were very favorable and 32 percent somewhat favorable.

Berland interprets it this way: "I don't think Mike ever did anything to be loved. These numbers make it look like he was respected. He never sought an emotional connection with New Yorkers, and never had it."

"People are saying, 'See you later, good luck, and thank you for your service.' "

If overall performance is the sum of one's policies, Bloomberg's emerged as a mixed bag.

Banning smoking in public places turned out to be his most popular cause, with 76 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans in favor. Expanding affordable housing got high marks, especially among Democrats.

Adding bike lanes won only 45 percent approval among Democrats and 35 percent among Republicans. And although he challenged his public to judge his mayoralty on education, only 30 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Republicans approved his taking direct control over public schools.

Banning the sale of sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces was the hardest proposal to swallow. Twenty-nine percent of Democrats, and only 20 percent of Republicans, approved.

The popularity of police stop-and-frisk practices split, predictably, along party and racial lines. Only 23 percent of Democrats approved of how the policy has been conducted under Bloomberg, with whites at 28 percent and blacks and Latinos at 22 and 15 percent each. For Republicans, 61 percent approved.