Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New York Governor David Paterson's approval rating by voters hits all-time low

A year ago when David Paterson suddenly and unexpectedly became Governor of New York after Eliot Spitzer ("Client Number 9") resigned in disgrace, a Quinnipiac poll showed that 75% of New Yorkers believed he would govern effectively. He was viewed favorably by 46% and unfavorably by a mere 3%, with the rest having no opinion about the largely unheralded Lieutenant Governor.

Wow, what a difference that year has made! In the latest Marist poll, only 26% of voters said Paterson was doing a good or excellent job as Governor, while a whopping 71% said he was doing a fair or poor job. Paterson's 26% approval was actually lower than Spitzer's in his final days before resigning, and the lowest for a New York Governor recorded by Marist in its 27 years of polling.

In match-ups against big name contenders in the 2010 gubernatorial election, the news for Paterson gets worse. State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo would overwhelm him in a Democratic primary, 62% to 26%, and Rudy Giuliani would handily beat him in the election, 53% to 38%.

With numbers like these, Paterson may be sorely tempted to pack it in. Still, he may be in the dog house with voters for reasons tha may turn out to be transitory and fade over time: his high-profile, clumsy handling of Camelot icon Caroline Kennedy; fallout among downstate liberals over his choice of upstate Blue Dog Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat; and a daily drumbeat of verty personal attack ads run by everyone with an axe to grind about recession-year budget cutbacks.

Paterson has another 10 months or so to turn things around before he's toast. It can be done. My initial unsolicited advice? Make a virtue out of the necessity of budget slashing at a time of economic crisis and sagging state revenues by positioning himself as a guy who never expected to be Governor and doesn't want to cut any one's programs but is big enough and strong enough to step up and lead responsibly. What else can he do anyway?

What do you think? Post a comment.

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