Poll: New York voters aren’t all sold on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

February 4, 2019

A recent poll found that New Yorkers have mixed feelings about freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Despite all the hype about her youth and radical, socialist ideas, Ocasio-Cortez was down in the poll when compared to older, more established, and more moderate Democrats in her state like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

NYers mixed on AOC

The youngest congresswoman in history, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became an instant political celebrity after her shock primary victory against longtime incumbent Joe Crowley in June. Since then, she has become a ubiquitous figure in the media and, some say, the face of a new generation of radical Democrats.

But despite all the buzz, residents of Ocasio-Cortez’s state aren’t sold on what she’s selling. A new Quinnipiac poll found that Ocasio-Cortez is up only five points in favorability.

Not surprisingly, the poll found that the Bronx/Queens representative and her progressive fantasies haven’t caught on in the New York suburbs, where she’s down 15 points, or among moderates. The congresswoman is also down five points with independents.

Meanwhile, longtime congressman Schumer, who was a centrist for years before his recent pandering to the progressive base, is up 15 points. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a 2020 hopeful, is up 11 points.

Hype bubble burst?

Since entering the political scene, AOC has become the conservative media’s favorite joke, and she has faced plenty of criticism — including from the left — for her extreme, costly, and thinly-sketched ideas to reduce inequality and save the environment, like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and a 70 percent tax rate on top earners.

Indeed, Ocasio-Cortez might be a political star, but social media fame has its limits. While she is certainly pushing the envelope on the Democratic Party’s platform, it looks like voters are more comfortable with the familiar politics of the Democratic mainstream than her radical agenda.

Moreover, socialism hasn’t won over the public yet. Polls show that Medicare for All is popular as a buzzword, but many Americans are wary of eliminating private insurance and support for the policy plunges when the negative side effects, like higher taxes and delayed treatments, are taken into account.

Socialism has also suffered electoral setbacks with the defeat of Bernie Sanders in 2016 and Cynthia Nixon in New York’s gubernatorial race in 2018. However, proposals from Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) to soak the wealthy remain popular.

Ocasio-Cortez has shot past many establishment Democrats on the basis of her youthful image and charisma, but she needs the media machine to keep the hype going. As one writer at The Federalist observes, Ocasio-Cortez needs the media like a fish needs water, and her challenges to her party’s leadership have so far fallen short.

Outside the New York-Washington media corridor, socialism is still a strange and un-American concept to the majority of voters — and Ocasio-Cortez might have peaked early. Without a solid base of support for her ideas, Ocasio-Cortez just isn’t the revolutionary figure that fawning liberal commentators say she is.

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.