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Most NYC Voters Say City Headed in Wrong Direction, Poll Finds

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Most registered New York City voters say the city is headed in the wrong direction in a Marist College poll that showed only 40 percent approve of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s job performance.

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed disapprove of Bloomberg’s handling of schools, and 56 percent oppose his $65.6 billion budget, which proposes to eliminate 6,166 of 75,000 teachers. The mayor wants state permission to fire about 4,666 teachers without regard to seniority.

Bloomberg’s lowest approval rating of 37 percent came in a January Marist poll after a Dec. 26-27 blizzard dropped 20 inches of snow, leaving some streets in Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens unplowed for more than a week. The mayor’s performance continues to slide in Staten Island and Queens, with 35 percent who rate his performance as excellent or good compared with 49 percent in early February.

“Mayor Bloomberg is not immune from ‘third term-itis,’” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “If you mix together the rough winter weather, a sluggish economy and the ongoing battle over public schools, he’s spending too much of his political capital.”

March’s 40 percent approval matched Marist’s poll finding in April 2004, after Bloomberg pushed through an 18 percent property-tax increase and campaigned for construction of a $1 billion domed stadium and convention facility to be paid for by the New York Jets. The Legislature killed the proposal.

Manhattan Base

The only borough where Bloomberg’s approval climbed this month was in Manhattan, where 59 percent of registered voters were pleased with his performance, compared with 50 percent last month, Marist said.

“Manhattan is his base,” Miringoff said in a telephone interview from Poughkeepsie, New York. “He hasn’t been strong in the other four boroughs for some time.”

Fifty-three percent of voters across all five boroughs said the city is moving in the wrong direction while 42 percent said it’s on the right track. That’s a turnaround from February, when 52 percent surveyed by Marist said the city was headed in the right direction.

Marist last reported the mayor’s approval rating above 50 percent in April 2010, when 56 percent rated his performance as good or excellent. His highest approval rating came in October 2008, when 68 percent rated him positively.

The Marist poll findings are consistent with a March 16 Quinnipiac University survey that reported the mayor’s lowest rating since November 2003, with 39 percent who approve and 51 percent who don’t.

`Tough Choices'

Stu Loeser, spokesman for the mayor, attributed the low ratings in the Quinnipiac poll to “making tough choices in a difficult time, which is what people elected him to do.”

Marist contacted 605 voters citywide March 22-24 on their cell and landline telephones for the poll, which had an error margin of 4 percentage points, the polling institute said.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at hgoldman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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