3/9: Paterson Retains Support Among NYS Voters

The torrent of scandal facing New York Governor David Paterson has not chipped away at his support among registered voters in the state.  68% of the electorate wants Paterson to finish out his term while 28% are calling for him to resign.  4% are unsure.

New York Gov. David Paterson (Photo courtesy of New York State).

NY Gov. David Paterson (Photo courtesy of New York State).

In a Marist Poll conducted just one week ago, the governor had similar support among the electorate.  At that time, 66% reported they wanted Paterson to stay in office while 28% thought Paterson should step down.  6% were unsure.

“This is not really a ringing endorsement of Governor Paterson.  Instead, the jury is still out on Paterson in the court of public opinion until further information is known,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “In the short run, voters are giving him the benefit of the doubt.”

Why do voters think the way they do about Paterson’s future?  Of those voters who think the governor should stay in office, 40% say the public doesn’t have all the facts to prove he’s guilty.  20% think his resignation would do more harm than good for the state, 14% report he’s doing a good job under the circumstances, and 13% think Paterson has a responsibility to fulfill his commitment.   An additional 13% believe he should stay in office because there isn’t that much time left to his term.

Click Here for Complete March 9, 2010 NYS Poll Release and Tables

As for those voters who think Paterson should resign, 30% say it is because he can no longer do his job with these controversies.  25% report the scandals are a distraction from the important issues facing New York, 24% think Paterson is guilty of wrongdoing, and 13% think he hasn’t been honest about what has happened.  Just 8% believe he has hurt the image of the state.

Governor Paterson has been adamant that he will not resign from office.  If he does not step down, how effective will he be during the remainder of his term?  According to 60% of voters, Paterson will not be able to govern properly.  This includes 38% who believe he will not be very effective and 22% who think he will not be effective at all.  On the other hand, 37% report the governor will be a good leader, including 2% who say he will be very effective, and 35% who believe he will be effective in the role.

Voters’ lack of confidence in the governor has been consistent since Marist’s survey last week.  62%, at that time, thought Paterson would be ineffectual as New York’s governor.  This included 39% who believed he would not be able to lead the state well, and 23% who thought his hands would be tied.  34%, however, thought he would be able to fulfill his responsibilities.  Included here were 7% who said Paterson would be very effective and 27% who reported he would be effective.

Table: Paterson Resignation
Table: Reason for Wanting Paterson to Stay
Table: Reason for Wanting Paterson to Resign
Table: Paterson’s Effectiveness

More Voters Cast Judgment on Paterson

Governor Paterson says he has been a victim of rumor and innuendo.  However, with the media circulating more and more stories about Paterson’s alleged phone conversation with the victim in a possible domestic violence case involving one of his top aides and his alleged improper acquisition of Yankees’ tickets, the governor is on a slippery slope when it comes to public opinion.

Since Marist’s survey of New York State last week, more voters have formed an opinion about the governor’s involvement in the possible domestic violence case.  While 30% were unsure about how they would classify Paterson’s behavior last week, just 17% currently do not have an opinion.  And, the change is not good for Paterson.

Both the proportion of those who think the governor did something unethical and the proportion of voters who believe Paterson’s actions were illegal have grown while fewer members of the electorate believe the governor did nothing wrong.

A slim majority of voters — 51% — now think Governor Paterson acted unethically but not illegally while 40% said the same last week.  When it comes to legality, 25% currently believe the governor broke the law.  This compares with 18% who thought that way last week.  And, only 7% now report Paterson did nothing wrong while 12% said the same in Marist’s March 2nd poll.

Since Marist’s previous survey, allegations have surfaced questioning whether Governor Paterson misinformed the Commission on Public Integrity about how he obtained World Series Yankees’ tickets.  What do voters think about Paterson’s alleged actions on this question?  53% say his behavior was unethical but not illegal, 15% think the governor broke the law, and 18% believe he did nothing wrong.  14% are unsure.

Table: Voters’ Views On Paterson’s Alleged Role
Table: Voters’ Views On World Series Tickets Investigation

No-Go for Cuomo…Voters Want Special Prosecutor to Investigate

Although Governor Paterson asked New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate the conversation he had with the possible victim in the domestic violence case involving one of his top aides, only 38% think Cuomo will be fair and impartial in conducting the investigation due to his potential gubernatorial bid.  58% say a special prosecutor should be appointed.  4% are unsure.

Table: Cuomo or Special Prosecutor to Investigate Paterson

The Fairness Factor

54% of registered voters think Governor David Paterson is being treated fairly while 39% believe he is being unfairly targeted.  7% are unsure.

This is similar to Marist’s poll last week when 55% said he was being treated fairly, and 36% said he was not.  9% were unsure.

Table: Fairness of Paterson’s Treatment

Budgetary Skills Lacking, Say Majority of Voters

Governor Paterson is trying to convince voters that, despite the scandal surrounding him, it’s business as usual.  On Monday, Paterson held a town hall meeting in Brooklyn focusing on the budget.  How do voters think Mr. Paterson is doing on the issue?  58% disapprove of how he is handling the budget while 35% approve of his management.  7% are unsure.

When Marist last asked about the governor’s budgetary skills in early February, 57% disapproved, and 37% approved.  6% were unsure.

Table: Paterson Handling of Budget

Paterson’s Approval Rating at 19%

And, what about the governor’s overall job approval rating?  It has notched down even further.  19% of the electorate believes Paterson is doing either an excellent or good job in office.  This includes 3% who say he is excelling and 16% who think he is doing well.  43% report he is doing a fair job while 36% say he is performing poorly.  2% are unsure.

When Marist asked about Governor Paterson’s job approval rating last week after he announced he would not seek election, 23% thought highly of his performance.  Included here were 4% who said he was doing an excellent job and 19% who reported he was doing a good job.  One-third thought Paterson was doing an average job, and 38% said he was falling short.  6% were unsure.

Table: Paterson Approval Rating
Table: Paterson Approval Rating Over Time

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Ravitch Who?

If Governor Paterson steps down, Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch will be sworn in as the state’s next governor.  Unfortunately for Ravitch, not a lot of voters know much about him.  41% have either never heard of him or are unsure how to rate him while 21% say he is doing either an excellent or good job in office.  30% report he is doing a mediocre job, and 8% say he is performing poorly.

In Marist’s survey last week, 44% did not have a sense about Ravitch, 15% thought he was doing either an excellent or good job in office, and 29% gave him average marks.  12% thought he was performing at a subpar level.

Table: Ravitch Approval Rating

Cuomo Approval Rating Drops to 54%

Has New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s job approval rating suffered from his role in the Paterson investigation?  The short answer is, “Yes.”  Cuomo’s approval rating has dropped 13 percentage points since Marist last asked this question prior to Governor Paterson ending his candidacy for election.  54% of voters currently say Cuomo is doing either an excellent or good job in office.  31% now believe he is performing fairly well, and 8% think he is missing the mark.  7% are unsure.

This is a major change from Marist’s previous poll when 67% gave Cuomo high marks, 22% thought he was doing a fair job, and 6% said he was doing a poor job.  5% were unsure.

Notable changes in Cuomo’s approval rating are in New York City and among non-white voters.  In New York City, Cuomo declined by 17 percentage points, and among non-whites, he dropped 22 percentage points.

Table: Cuomo Approval Rating
Table: Cuomo Approval Rating Over Time

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Marist Poll Methodology