Two polls released Monday find Gov. David Paterson continues to win back favor among voters, while one found Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is losing ground for the first time in a potential matchup with former Gov. George Pataki.
The Siena poll found Paterson rising for the third straight month to the point where 38 percent of registered voters said they had a favorable view of the Democrat. That's up 11 points from October when Paterson started fighting with the Legislature to cut spending that he said was needed to contend with a fiscal crisis.
Although three times as many voters still prefer Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo over Paterson for governor, Paterson has gained on Cuomo since November while Cuomo has lost ground.
In Monday's Siena poll, Cuomo had a 59 percent to 21 percent edge over Paterson in a potential matchup, although Cuomo won't say whether he'll run for governor even as he amasses a bigger campaign fund than any candidate. In November, Cuomo held a 75 percent to 16 percent lead.
The Marist College poll also reports that 31 percent of registered voters now think Paterson is doing an excellent or good job, an 11 percent gain since November. Fewer New Yorkers polled now feel he is doing a poor job, said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
"He's off the canvas, but he still has a long way to go," Miringoff said.
The only announced Republican candidate, former congressman Rick Lazio, is favored by 24 percent of voters against Cuomo, who drew 66 percent of voters. In December, Cuomo had a 68 percent to 22
percent, statistically unchanged compared with Monday.
Cuomo's approval rating was 64 percent, statistically unchanged from 66 percent in November. Seventy-two percent of Democrats say they would vote for Cuomo right now for governor, compared with 21 percent for Paterson.
"Right now, Andrew Cuomo has a clear path to become governor," Miringoff said.
Cuomo said Sunday that he is focused not on campaigns, for which he raised $6.8 million in the last six months to Paterson's $2.2 million, but on doing the job of attorney general. Although he again refused to say whether he was going to run for governor, he defended the primary system as an important aspect of democracy.
As for Gillibrand, more voters view her unfavorably than favorably for the first time in the Siena poll and Pataki, a Republican who hasn't announced a run, is taking the lead for the first time.
Thirty-two percent of voters view Gillibrand unfavorably, compared with 30 percent who see her favorably. Just 29 percent of those polled by Siena are prepared to elect Gillibrand.
However, she leads in a potential matchup with Democrat Harold Ford, the former Tennessee congressman, but now trails Pataki.
Fifty-one percent of voters favor Pataki, with 38 percent for Gillibrand in a potential matchup.
Friday's Marist poll found Gillibrand nearly even with Pataki, 45 percent to 42 percent.
"Like most New Yorkers, Governor Pataki is deeply dissatisfied by the lack of a strong voice for our interests in Washington," said Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo. ``He is gratified by the support and encouragement he continues to receive and is considering how best to be a part of our national discourse."
"Anybody who wants to run for Senate in New York should run for the Senate," Gillibrand said Monday. She declined further comment, saying it was a day to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and to help the people devastated in Haiti.
Siena questioned 806 registered voters from Jan. 10 to last Thursday. The poll released Monday has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Marist questioned 855 registered voters on Thursday and Friday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.