A poll of 778 registered voters across New York state conducted by Siena College Research Institute found majority support for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s hotly debated deal with Amazon to provide as much as $3 billion in tax breaks to the trillion-dollar company to build its second headquarters in Long Island City, Queens.
The survey consisted of the question, asked in English, “Do you approve or disapprove of the recently announced deal between Amazon and New York, which grants up to 3 billion dollars in state and city incentives to Amazon in return for Amazon locating its corporate offices in Queens, where it is projected to generate 25 thousand jobs?” In total, 56 percent of respondents said they approved, while 36 percent said that they did not.
“Even as Amazon is said to be reexamining the deal with New York to locate in Queens, by twenty points New York voters approve of the deal,” said Don Levy, Siena College Research Institute’s director. “Upstate voters are evenly divided but suburban voters strongly approve and in New York City, where some local activists have voiced opposition, voters approve of the deal by 23 points.”
Anti-Amazon activists, however, have expressed doubts about the poll’s methodology, arguing that asking only one question to only registered voters and only in English would lead to inaccurate results among the diverse immigrant communities in Queens.
“The poll has a sample of only 788 people across the entire state, only from a pool of registered voters and only done in English? A joke,” said Josselyn Atahualpa, an organizer for the grassroots organization Queens Neighborhood United. “We talked to more people than that this past week, just in Queens, and we did it across six languages. Grassroots outreach focuses on having meaningful conversations with real people on the street that talk about experiences and the complexities of our people. We’re more than numbers.”
The Center for an Urban Future reported in 2015 that 2.3 million New Yorkers report speaking English “less than very well,” which Atahualpa claims affects poll respondents’ ability to understand poll questions and answer them accurately, if at all.
“As we continue engaging with our new neighbors – community leaders, tenant advocates, small business owners, and neighborhood stakeholders – we’re focused on demonstrating the kind of neighbor we plan to be,” said an Amazon spokesperson in a statement. “We’re very appreciative that everyday New Yorkers, both in Queens and across the city, have shown us so much support.”