Pessimism About Paterson

From listening to some of the coverage, you'd think that David Paterson had appointed Rod Blagojevich to the Senate. From the New York Daily ...
by | January 26, 2009
 

From listening to some of the coverage, you'd think that David Paterson had appointed Rod Blagojevich to the Senate. From the New York Daily News:

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.

...

While more New York State voters approve of Paterson's selection of Gillibrand, they split on their judgment of how he selected a new Senator, with 44 percent approving and 42 percent disapproving. Republicans approve 52 - 39 percent, while Democrats split 42 - 43 percent.

Paterson's overall approval stands at 50 - 30 percent, down from 53 - 25 percent in a January 15 Quinnipiac University poll. Paterson's approval among Republican voters is up, from 41 - 38 percent to 45 - 39 percent, while approval among Democrats is down from 62 - 18 percent to 54 - 24 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.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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