Gov. David Paterson's popularity can't get much worse. New Yorkers have lost faith in his ability to steer the state out of its financial crisis in a poll conducted by the New York Times, NY1 and Cornell University.
The people surveyed showed little confidence in the governor's ability to create new jobs, reduce property taxes or handle a serious statewide crisis, according to a report in The Times.
Seven of 10 people surveyed said Paterson did not deserve to be elected in 2010. Only 21 percent of New York voters say they have a favorable view of Paterson, compared to 26 percent who have a favorable of his predecessor Eliot Spitzer.
Paterson has a year and half to repair his image before the election, but first he must regain the trust of voters. Voters appear to have lost faith in Paterson on a personal level, with 50 percent viewing him unfavorably.
“He said he was going to make government transparent so everyone could see what was going on,” Craig Tatro, a retired correction officer, told The Times. “He said things would change, but in the end it was still three men in the room making the budget up. So I don’t take him at his word.”
Even more damning is Paterson's standing among black voters. Only 38 percent of black voters approve of the performance of the state's first black governor.
Paterson has been unable to keep order in the Legislature, which turned into a three-ring circus on Monday. Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith was ousted after Republicans regained the majority by getting two Democrats to vote with them.
“I think a governor should have certain powers, exert influence, but I’m not sure he believes he does,” Maxwell Simon, an African-American from Queens, told The Times. “Maybe people don’t take him seriously either because they don’t believe he will run or be elected.”
An inability to turn around the state's flailing economy is not the only thing that's bothered New Yorkers about Paterson. Some said he lost favor after his poor handling of filling the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. Paterson dragged the process out and eventually appointed little-known upstate Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand over Caroline Kennedy, who publicly lobbied for the job.
“I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when he replaced Spitzer, but the way he handled the Gillibrand appointment bothered me,” said James Tonlon, a retired high school teacher in Floral Park, on Long Island. “I thought a guy who’s been around as long as Paterson would have a little more political savvy.”