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Another poll shows Paterson continues to stumble with voters

Another week, another poll showing Gov. David A. Paterson stumbling badly in the view of New York voters.

The Siena College Research Institute on Tuesday released a poll finding only 40 percent approve of the job Paterson is doing as governor compared with 47 percent who rate him negatively. That is down sharply from November when his approval rating was at 64-19 percent.

"The governor has lost the confidence of New York voters," said Steve Greenberg, a Siena spokesman.

He attributed the slide to the embarrassing debacle over the process Paterson used to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in the U.S. Senate, millions of dollars in television advertising by special interest groups beating him up over his state budget proposals and a near-daily account in the media of missteps, infighting and general lack of direction within his administration.

In a state where Democrats far outnumber Republicans -- 5.2 million to 2.8 million -- the new poll found some other problems for Paterson: in a hypothetical matchup with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican, the Democratic governor leads by only 44 percent to 42 percent. Giuliani has not said if he is running for governor.

But before Paterson gets to a general election contest, the numbers for a possible Democratic primary are even worse. Following the trend of other recent polls, the latest Siena survey has Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo leading Paterson in a hypothetical primary contest by 51 percent to 38 percent. Cuomo, too, has not said if he will run for governor next year.

For his part, Paterson on Tuesday acknowledged some missteps in his administration that may be contributing to the poll problems, including how he handled what he said became a "bit of a circus" surrounding last month's U.S. Senate selection process and failing to "totally adjust" to the loss of some key officials who departed last year when Eliot Spitzer resigned the governor's office.

"I think we have made some mistakes here and not calculated things correctly and I think in many respects this administration is going through the problems that our country is going through, where things have turned around on us a little bit. So, just as we ask New Yorkers to reprioritize and just as Americans are having to make adjustments, I'm sure we'll have to," he said.

Fifty-three percent of New Yorkers now believe the state is heading in the wrong direction, the highest-ever in four years of polling by Siena, with only 31 percent saying it is on the right track. Upstaters, at 66 percent, are the most pessimistic about the state's direction.

Sixty-one percent said they are not very confident or not at all confident the budget crisis will be fixed, compared with just 37 percent who have some level of confidence.

Nearly 60 percent want some of the stimulus money to go to reducing some of the more than $500 million in tax and fee hikes Paterson proposed, while 59 percent said income taxes should be raised on those making over $250,000 a year.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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