Race may not matter after all in a hypothetical Democratic primary matchup between Gov. David Paterson and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, despite the warning of Harlem Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel that racial polarization could devastate the party.
Most black Democrats – 51 percent to 24 percent – would support Cuomo over New York's first black governor in a potential contest for the state's most important job, according to a new Quinnipiac poll released today.
The survey of nearly 2,400 voters, which comes on the heels of a Siena College poll that indicated Paterson would do well to sit this one out, offers some of the most solid proof yet of anti-Dave sentiment among a group pundits expect to be a key support base.
The latest poll numbers also indicate Cuomo has been doing a good job of currying favor within the black community, which hasn't exactly bestowed its well wishes on the attorney general since his aborted 2002 primary bid against Carl McCall, the state's first African-American comptroller who was aiming to be New York's first black governor, reports The New York Post.
In June, Rep. Charlie Rangel suggested that a Cuomo run could spark racial polarization among Democrats, which could leave the party vulnerable to a united Republican front.
"Since we have most African-Americans registered as Democrats, and since you would be making an appeal for Democrats, it would be devastating in my opinion," Rangel said earlier this year.
The Quinnipiac poll seems to dash those forebodings.
"If there's a racial issue in a matchup between Gov. David Paterson and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, these numbers don’t show it," Quinnipiac pollster Maurice Carroll said in a statement. "Black Democrats back Cuomo hands down, and black voters in general give Cuomo better grades than the Governor on every measure."
Black voters also rate Cuomo more favorably (70 percent) than Paterson (53 percent), the poll found.
Among all Democrats, Cuomo has Paterson beat 61 percent to 19 percent. In possible general election contests, Republican Rudy Giuliani would top Paterson 54 percent to 32 percent, but lose to Cuomo 40 percent to 50 percent.
"The only good news for Gov. Paterson is that he doesn't lose to Rick Lazio," Carroll said.
Well, he wouldn't win either. The Quinnipiac poll has the former Republican Congressman Rick Lazio running neck and neck with Paterson (38 percent of the vote apiece). Lazio would take a beating by Cuomo, however – 22 percent to 61 percent.
"Nothing seems to help the governor's job approval numbers. He made news by calling for big cuts to balance the state budget, but voters still turn thumbs down," Carroll said. "Nothing seems to hurt Attorney General Cuomo, whose job performance is still stratospheric. He remains the man to beat in 2010."
Paterson's dismal poll numbers, combined with the bleak performance surveys indicate he'd have against Rudy, have Democrats so concerned that even the White House has been monitoring the political process. At a recent event in New York, President Barack Obama personally asked the governor to abandon a run for re-election.
Despite voters' general disapproval of the job Paterson is doing, they don't think Obama did the right thing by stepping in. Fifty two percent of voters say it was the wrong move for the president to meddle in state politics, while 34 percent support it.