Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
ALBANY - Democrats are increasingly pessimistic about Gov. Paterson's political survival.
Paterson's handling of the U.S. Senate appointment has even his allies critical of the governor - and fearful that erosion in public confidence in him could impact efforts next year by Democrats to keep their tenuous control over the state Senate as well as the controller's office.
But, the latest Quinnipiac Poll belies that gloomy forecast:New York State voters approve 46 - 30 percent, with 24 percent undecided, of Gov. Paterson's selection of Albany area U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand for the Senate seat, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Men approve 48 - 29 percent while women approve 44 - 31 percent. Republicans back the selection 56 - 27 percent, a wider margin than the 41 - 35 percent among Democrats. Independent voters back her 49 - 21 percent.
Paterson has a challenging election ahead of him. He could lose a Democratic primary to Andrew Cuomo. He could lose a general election to Rudy Giuliani.
Still, I don't believe for a second that, more than a year from now, New Yorkers still will be aggravated at the process he used to select a U.S. senator -- especially when they actually seem to like the person he picked. If there's reason for pessimism about Paterson's prospects coming out of the appointment, it's not that any lasting damage was done to his popularity.
Instead, it's that the episode reflected a leadership style that won't serve him well on issues that really do matter, such as the state's budget crisis. If New York Democrats are nervous, it's not because they fear the revenge of Caroline Kennedy, but because they fear a repeat performance from the governor.
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