Cuomo isn't stretching his lead necessarily by anything he's doing; the governor is still reeling from the Caroline Kennedy fiasco that ended when Paterson appointed Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's vacated Senate seat.
"New Yorkers thought Caroline Kennedy got a raw, raw deal," Quinnipiac polling director Mickey Carroll told NBCNewYork.com Tuesday. "Is this entirely attributable to the Caroline Kennedy fiasco? No, but it all started with that. Three weeks ago, Paterson was ahead in approval, 50-30, and now, he's only up by four, 45-41."
And Paterson's recent announcement of a record budget deficit of $15.5 billion probably isn't earning him much support either.
Even though Cuomo hasn't announced a 2010 gubernatorial run, he would beat his fellow Democrat Paterson 55-23 in the hypothetical primary poll.
"Obviously, this isn't decisive this far ahead," Carroll said. "But it's interesting how badly and how quickly Paterson has fallen. Can he reverse it? Sure. Twenty months is plenty of time to get some things done."
In a general election contest, Cuomo's lead over Rudy Giuliani is smaller -- 51-27 -- and Paterson and Guiliani would tie at 43.
The poll surveyed more than 1,000 New York State registered voters over a six-day period and has a margin of error of +/- 3 points.