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Paterson Slips in Poll

By Karen DeWitt


Albany, NY – Governor Paterson launched his struggling election campaign over the weekend, with stops in Long Island, Rochester and Buffalo, where he endured low crowd turn outs, and snubs by local and state elected officials, most of whom refused to appear with him. Monday brought a new insult, the release of yet another poll showing that the Governor is unpopular with potential New York voters, and that they have lost confidence in his ability to do his job.

"He's starting to fall again," said Steve Greenberg, with Siena Research Institute.

Greenberg says Paterson now trails GOP candidate Rick Lazio by 7 points, at 46% for Lazio and 39% for Paterson. The governor trails potential Democratic Primary challenger, State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, by 42 points, at 64% for Cuomo and 22% for Paterson.

Paterson's negative ratings stand at 55%, while 35% of New Yorkers view him favorably, though just 22% believe the governor is doing a good job in office. Paterson told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that those numbers are at least an improvement from an even lower point last summer.

"Polls are antiseptic," Paterson said. "Everybody is going to be unhappy with the person who has to make the tough decisions."

Siena's Greenberg agrees that polls are not a prediction of future elections, merely a snap shot of the mood of the electorate at a fixed point in time. He says things could change, and the campaign kick off represents a start.

"The bottom line right now is that voters are not with David Paterson," said Greenberg.

Paterson, speaking after a campaign appearance in Rochester, acknowledged he might become even more unpopular with some of his newest budget proposals, including closing down state parks and historic sites, and withholding New Yorker's tax returns until June.

"This is another inevitable reality," said Paterson, who says he must take steps to close gaping deficits.

"It's as simple as this," Paterson said. "You can't spend money you don't have."

The governor says he believes that as his campaign progresses, and people hear the reasons why he's running, and how he's handled the fiscal crisis, they will come around.

"They will understand," Paterson said. "That's the kind of leadership I think this state needs for the next four years."

And there are even more challenges ahead. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says New York may end the current fiscal year $2 billion dollars short, if budget balancing steps aren't taken now. The Comptroller also reports that sales tax revenues are down by nearly 6%, the worst drop in recent history.