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New Yorkers give NJ's Christie highest marks for storm response

Governor Chris Christie (2nd L) surveys the Hurricane Sandy damaged areas along Rt 35 in Bayhead, New Jersey, November 2, 2012 in this hando
Governor Chris Christie (2nd L) surveys the Hurricane Sandy damaged areas along Rt 35 in Bayhead, New Jersey, November 2, 2012 in this hando

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York-area politicians won high marks from the city's residents for their response to superstorm Sandy, but it was New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie who most impressed New Yorkers, a Quinnipiac University poll said on Tuesday.

Nearly 90 percent of New York City voters rated Christie's response to the storm, which left large swaths of the region without power and cut off from mass transit and devastated the New Jersey shoreline, as "excellent" or "good."

Christie offered strong praise for Obama's storm response in the days after Sandy. Because the poll only surveyed New York City voters, there was no input from Christie's New Jersey constituents.

More than a third of voters in Democratic-leaning New York said Christie, a Republican star, did the "best job" handling the storm. Nearly a quarter of voters gave that title to Obama.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, got high marks from 85 percent of voters. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, was rated as having done an "excellent" or "good" job by 75 percent of voters.

"The storm-of-the-century brings out the best in Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New Yorkers say. But that love fest between ... Christie and ... Obama seems to have moved voters especially," said Quinnipiac spokesman Maurice Carroll.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city's subway, bus and commuter train services, also received high marks for what was seen as the Herculean feat of emptying flooded tunnels and subway stations and bringing mass transit back on line within a week of the storm.

People were less impressed by the response by utility companies, which include Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority. More than half of city voters said the companies, which left millions of residents without power for weeks after the storm, had done a "not so good" or "poor" job.

Nearly eight in 10 voters say global climate change will make ferocious storms like Sandy more frequent, a phenomenon that more than six in 10 attribute to burning fossil fuels.

New Yorkers say they are behind the city spending billions of dollars to better protect the city from future storms, especially if it reduces the cost of disruptions.

"If the preventive measures cost billions, New Yorkers say, let's spend it," Carroll said.

The survey of 1,165 New York City voters was conducted from November 14 to 18 over land lines and cell telephones and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

(Reporting by Edith Honan, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Cynthia Osterman)

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