What They Really Think Of Us

This much we know (or thought we knew): Republicans are from Mars, and New Yorkers are from, well, New York. In fact, the divide between the typical New Yorker and the thousands of Dubya-loving, Fox News–watching interlopers who are descending on our fair Democratic city can seem so extreme, so epic, that their presence, for most of us, seems like nothing short of an alien invasion.

But a New York Magazine poll of 400 Republican-primary voters and 400 New York City residents of all parties suggests that maybe—maybe—the occupation is less adversarial than previously spun. Republicans, it turns out, often have a much more nuanced and generous view of New Yorkers than any of us might have guessed. (Could the Republicans actually be from … Venus?)

Most remarkably, New York’s bipartisan poll—jointly conducted by the polling firms Global Strategy Group and the Polling Company (the former generally a Democratic pollster, the latter generally Republican)—shows that New Yorkers think we’re even more pushy, materialistic, and arrogant than the Republicans think we are. In other words, as bad as they think us, we think we’re worse. (As always, New Yorkers are all about excess.) We also judge ourselves to be even looser than they imagined (and we should know)—39 percent of New Yorkers, versus 26 percent of the Republicans, suppose that New Yorkers are more sexually promiscuous than average Americans. Which means the born-again Christians among Republican-primary voters—nearly two-fifths self-identify as such—who may want to let their hair down Amish in the City–style while in New York could get even luckier than they might ever dare hope.

What is your opinion of…

The Republicans, notably, are a remarkably homogenous group: Some 88 percent of them say they’re Caucasian/white—versus 37 percent of New Yorkers. And less than 1 percent of the Republicans say they’re Jewish or gay (versus 9 percent and 3 percent, respectively, of New Yorkers), while 35 percent of Republicans have a college or graduate degree (versus 41 percent of New Yorkers). Perhaps surprisingly, 58 percent of Republican households (versus 53 percent of New York households) make under $75,000 a year, and only 3 percent of them (versus 4 percent for New York) claim to have an income of $200,000 or more.

Somewhat hilariously, 36 percent of New Yorkers surveyed think that there are more Starbucks than churches in New York (versus 51 percent of Republicans who think that), which makes you wonder what level of caffeination prompted 26 percent of surveyed New Yorkers (versus 7 percent of Republicans) to declare that New Yorkers are more religious than average Americans.

And speaking of God, Rudy Giuliani seems to be one—70 percent of the Republicans have a favorable opinion of him (then again, 57 percent of New Yorkers do, too), which, amazingly, puts him in a statistical dead heat with George W. (again, among Republicans). In fact, Rudy would trounce Arnold Schwarzenegger if they ran against each other for the Republican presidential nomination (that is, if foreign-born Arnold could actually qualify), 69 percent to 18 percent, a ratio that’s eerily echoed among New Yorkers (63 percent versus 16 percent). (And the 9/11 effect that so clearly buoyed Rudy benefited us all: 71 percent of Republican-primary voters said the World Trade Center attacks strengthened their bond with New Yorkers.)

Meanwhile, if Hillary-hating is a religion among many conservatives, perhaps that theological strain is fading: Remarkably, fully one-quarter of Republicans give her a favorable rating (versus 73 percent of New Yorkers), which makes her exactly as popular among Republicans as her cuddly, omnipresent husband. Hillary’s approval ratings used to be far below Bill’s, which suggests that even Republicans (a quarter of them, at least) are coming to terms with her rising stature as a national political force.

What is your opinion of

What do we really agree on? For one thing, TV. Republicans and New Yorkers both say that cop shows, specifically NYPD Blue and Law & Order, most accurately depict our city (thanks for not saying Friends). And, perhaps surprisingly, when asked to state what percentage of New Yorkers are Jewish, black, or gay, the Republican and New Yorker guesses (25 percent Jewish, 36 percent black, and 18 percent gay, say the Republicans; 29 percent, 38 percent, and 24 percent, say New Yorkers) were roughly even, with both sides overshooting the mark (the actual percentages are 12 percent Jewish, 26 percent black, and 5–9 percent gay).

Oh, and for those Republican-primary voters—63 percent—who think the New York Times is a liberal rag, well, 49 percent of New Yorkers agree with you (David Brooks notwithstanding).

Among the greatest disparities between Them and Us is how brilliant they think we are: Only 29 percent of the Republicans think New Yorkers are more creative than average Americans, versus 74 percent of New Yorkers. Even worse, Republicans are dismissive of our importance, with 63 percent calling D.C.—D.C.!—the most powerful city in the country.

In the end, of course, the divide is greatest when it comes to questions of leadership. Seventy-three percent of Republicans have a favorable opinion of George W. Bush, versus just 28 percent of New Yorkers.

Clearly, when it comes to the most crucial issues, we can’t all just get along.

61% of nationwide GOP primary voters say the U.S. is safer because of the war in Iraq, compared with 23% of New Yorkers.

63% of GOP primary voters say the New York Times has a liberal bias, compared with 49% of New Yorkers.

71% of GOP primary voters say the September 11th attacks strengthened their bond with New Yorkers.

Politically, how would you describe yourself?
Compared with average Americans, are New Yorkers more...

Which of the following cities is the most powerful?

What percentage of New Yorkers do you think are:

Both nationwide GOP primary voters and New Yorkers rank NYPD Blue and Law & Order as the two TV shows that most accurately depict New York.

True or False?

42% of nationwide GOP primary voters have never been to New York.

Is your overall opinion of New York favorable?

For this poll, 800 interviews—400 Republican-primary voters and 400 residents of New York City—were conducted by Global Strategy Group and the Polling Company from August 5 to August 8. The margin of error is 4.9 percent.

What They Really Think Of Us