Bloomberg, Kelly Poll Numbers Up Despite Muslim Surveillance Controversy

By Jill Colvin on March 13, 2012 11:40am 

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly hasn't seen his approval hit by allegations that the NYPD has been inappropriately monitoring Muslims.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly hasn't seen his approval hit by allegations that the NYPD has been inappropriately monitoring Muslims.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Allegations that the NYPD is spying on Muslims as part of its far-ranging counter-terrorism efforts doesn't seem to faze New Yorkers.

A majority of New York voters polled — 59 percent — said that the NYPD has "acted appropriately" in dealing with Muslims, and 63 percent approve of the way police are doing their jobs, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

The questions came in response to a series of reports by the Associated Press that found the NYPD has been extensively monitoring Muslim businesses, shop owners, worshippers and students as far away as Newark, N.J., and Yale University despite no evidence those tracked had done anything wrong.

The revelations have drawn outrage from the Muslim community and civil liberties advocates, who say the surveillance has gone too far.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who have staunchly defended the efforts, appear to be benefiting from the controversy, and have seen their approval ratings soar.

Sixty-four percent of those polled said they approve of Kelly’s performance as commissioner, while Bloomberg's approval rating shot to 54 percent, up from 46 percent last month, and the highest since his spike from Hurricane Irene.

And when it came to his handling of crime, nearly 70 percent give Bloomberg a thumbs-up.

"New Yorkers brush aside the gripes about police surveillance of the Muslim community," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Voter approval of the way police are handling terrorism is through the roof and overall approval for police in general and for Commissioner Ray Kelly is undented by criticism."

The poll also found that Kelly could be a powerful king-maker in the coming election.

Twenty-eight percent of those polled said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate if he or she promised to ask Kelly to continue on as commissioner after Bloomberg steps down.

But while New Yorkers seem unfazed by the allegations of domestic spying, they were torn over the expansion of the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk policy. Forty-nine percent of the voters — with stronger disapproval by black and Latino voters — opposed the tactics, compared to 46 percent who were in favor of it.

The poll, meanwhile, also asked voters to weigh in on the contenders for the 2013 mayoral race.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn continued to lead the presumptive Democratic field, with support from 25 percent of those polled, followed by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz with 15 percent, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson with 13 percent, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio with 9 percent, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and embattled City Comptroller John Liu tied at 7 percent.

Despite the recent arrest of his campaign treasurer for alleged campaign finance fraud, Liu’s approval held steady at 40 percent, with 44 percent of those polled saying he should not resign, versus 33 percent who said he should.

"After the drum-beat of negative news, Comptroller John Liu's job approval numbers are tepid, but New Yorkers don't think he should quit," Carroll said.

Quinn also received her highest approval rating ever, with 59 percent of voters saying they approved of the job she’s doing as City Council speaker.

The poll of 964 registered voters, which was conducted March 6 to March 11, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

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