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A new poll finds overwhelming support for gun safety and abortion rights, Hochul's signature issues

 Gov. Kathy Hochul signs new gun safety measures into law on June 6, 2022.
Darren McGee
Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul signs new gun safety measures into law on June 6, 2022.

A new poll shows strong support for recent actions by Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature to strengthen the state’s gun laws and provide additional protections for people seeking abortions.

Earlier this month, Hochul and the Democratic-led Senate and Assembly reacted to mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, and approved a number of gun safety measures. They include barring anyone younger than 21 from buying a semi-automatic rifle in New York, and requiring that everyone over 21 will need a permit to do so.

“No 18-year-old can walk in on their birthday, and walk out again with an AR-15,” Hochul said at a June 6 bill-signing ceremony. “Those days are over.”

Steve Greenberg, spokesman for Siena College polls, said the majority of voters, including Republicans and gun owners, support those measures.

“We’ve seen those issues where there are huge partisan divides, this is not one of them,” Greenberg said.

The new poll found 83% of Democrats, 73% of independents and 67% of Republicans are in favor of the new law.

Greenberg said more than three-quarters of New Yorkers also do not want the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down New York’s decades-old law that requires a license to carry a concealed handgun, including 79% of Republicans and 72% of gun owners. That decision is now before the court.

Hochul and the Legislature also approved measures to protect abortion access for patients in New York and from states where the procedure would be banned if the U.S. Supreme Court, as expected, overturns Roe v. Wade.

The governor has been running campaign ads highlighting the measures.

The poll finds that most New Yorkers support the new abortion laws, and 60% believe that Roe should be upheld, including 41% of Republicans. Only 39% of GOP voters say it should be overturned.

Perhaps because of the new laws on guns and abortion, Hochul’s job approval ratings — which sank in March and April during state budget negotiations — have risen, with 46% of all voters viewing her favorably.

Greenberg said Hochul, who has significantly better name recognition than her opponents, seems poised to win the June 28 Democratic primary.

“Hochul is certainly the front-runner,” Greenberg said. “The expectation is that she will win the primary. The question is how big will the margin be.”

With many Republican voters supporting the recent actions on guns and abortion, the GOP’s four candidates in the primary may seem out of step with the electorate right now.

But Greenberg said the Republicans, just like the Democrats, appeal to their base during primaries. He predicted that the winners of each party’s primary will shift to the center for the general election, and focus on pocketbook issues like inflation and high gasoline prices.

“And we’ll see a race on the issues that the majority of New Yorkers care about,” Greenberg said. “Not just the more liberal Democrats and the more conservative Republicans.”

The Siena poll finds the Republican nominee for governor, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, is unknown to nearly half of the GOP respondents. They are also largely unfamiliar with candidates Rob Astorino and Harry Wilson. But most have heard of Andrew Giuliani, the son of former Trump adviser and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and 50% view him favorably.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.