“A clear majority want Wal-Mart and a very large percentage will shop at Wal-Mart,” Schoen told me in an interview this afternoon. “Our polling and Quinnipiac’s polling show that.”
Schoen’s poll from December showed 71 percent of city residents favored opening a Wal-Mat store here. (Also, somewhat surprisingly, the poll said 73 percent of public sector union members and 76 percent of private sector union members supported bringing Wal-Mart to NYC.)
Today’s Q poll said 57-36 percent of residents supported the store opening, with even more people — 68-29 percent — said they would shop there. Quinnipiac, whatever their flaws, is the polling arm of a major academic institution. It’s unlikely their their results will be attacked the way Schoen’s were.
When Schoen – an independent pollster in the private sector – released his poll, critics tried discrediting it, saying he somehow skewed the results in order to support the agenda of one of his best-known clients, Mayor Bloomberg.
When I asked Schoen about that criticism, he said, “it’s sort of sad and disappointing to me that somebody would cast aspersions on the polling if they don’t like the results.”
“The numbers are the numbers,” he said.
Indeed. But the Q poll does show some reservations about Wal-Mart’s arrival here: 68-26 percent agreed that Wal-Mart’s lower prices “hurt smaller nearby businesses.” And by 47-19 percent, most agreed that “Wal-Mart doesn’t pay enough.”
“I think it is a truism that for businesses located near Wal-Mart, they will face competitive pressures,” said Schoen. “I don’t think that’s an issue. But the poll basically says that the greater good is served by opening Wal-Mart and giving consumers access to the choice and value it presents.”
“New York didn’t become great because of Walmart,” said Eric Koch, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Free NYC. “[I]t became great because of the thousands of small businesses owners who worked hard to make our mom and pops the engine of our economy- the same neighborhood mom and pops that New Yorkers agree Walmart would destroy.”
Last month, a poll of 300 small businesses found 56 percent opposed the giant retailer opening a store in NYC, compared to 32 percent that supported it.