Despite voter approval of Muslim surveillance, pollster sees A.P. pickup taking a toll on the NYPD

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Protest against Muslim surveillance. (Dan Rosenblum)
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There's a possible mini-trend buried in today's Quinnipiac poll on the New York Police Department's tactic of traveling outside New York City and state to monitor Muslim organizations, restaurants and college groups, which has been detailed in a series of Associated Press stories since last summer.

There seems to have been a small drop in approval for the program, and a small increase in dispproval, since the media (aside from the A.P.) started covering the issue more intensely.

Today's Quinnpiac is the second in two months that ask about the NYPD surveillance program. In today's poll, the question was, "Do you think the New York City Police Department has unfairly targeted Muslism to combat terrorism or acted appropriately?"

58 percent said it was appropriate, 29 percent said it was unfair, and 13 percent said they didn't know.

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The same exact question was asked in a poll released on Feb. 9. The results in that poll were slightly different: 60 percent said the NYPD acted appropriately, 24 percent it was unfair, and 16 percent said they didn't know.

That's a five-precentage-point increase in the number of respondents who said the tactic was "unfair." (The two-percent decrease in respondents who said it was "appropriate" was within the polls' margin of error.)

"You know why, obviously?" the director of the Quinnpiac Polling Institute, Mickey Carroll, told me. "The New York media was ignoring this story when it was about New York. The A.P. didn't get a whisper in New York City. And when they started doing New Jersey, the New York media woke up and decided to cover it and that's when people starting covering it.

"I remember when I worked for the Times, 'we can't have an A.P. logo about New York.' And that's understandable. And they ignored it. You didn't see a whisper in New York. And when it went over to New Jersey, that unleashed them [reporters] and they said, 'I guess, I'm not supposed to be covering New Jersey so we can use A.P. out of New Jersey,' and bingo, it becomes a big deal. Not a very big deal, five points, but that's a change."