September 24th, 2009
04:28 PM ET
5 years ago

Poll: New Yorkers say White House should 'butt out'

New York voters want President Barack Obama to stay out of their state's politics, according to a new poll.
New York voters want President Barack Obama to stay out of their state's politics, according to a new poll.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - New York voters want President Barack Obama to stay out of their state's politics, according to a new poll.

More than six out of 10 New Yorkers questioned in a Marist College survey released Thursday said it's wrong for the White House to suggest that Gov. David Paterson not run next year for election to a full term. Just over a quarter said that the Obama administration is well within its rights to get involved.

The poll suggested that even a majority of Democrats, 51 percent, believes that the White House is meddling in their state's affairs. More than three quarters of Republicans questioned and nearly two thirds of Independents agreed.

The survey of New York voters was conducted Tuesday, a day after the White House refused to confirm or deny a report that President Barack Obama urged Paterson not to seek a full term in 2010.


Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One Monday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs - asked about a New York Times report from Sunday which said that Obama "sent a request" to Paterson urging him to step aside from the governor's race - said Paterson is in a "tough situation" and said ultimately the decision on whether or not he is going to make a bid to keep his job next year is one "that he's going to make."

Informed sources earlier this week told CNN that White House Political Director Patrick Gaspard met early last week with the Democratic governor to let him know about the administration's concerns he could not win the governor's race next year - a problem that could affect races down-ticket, not the least of which the Senate seat now held by Kirsten Gillibrand. The White House decision to approach Paterson, said one source, "was driven by the poll numbers. There doesn't seem to be any way he can recover."

Paterson, who was lieutenant governor when a scandal led to then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer's departure from the office in March 2008, has said he's running next year for a full term as governor. But Wednesday, Patterson appeared to suggest for the first time that he might not run for election next year.

"If I got to a point where I thought that my candidacy was hurting my party, obviously it would be rather self-absorbed to go forward" Paterson said at a luncheon in Syracuse that was reported by both the Times and the New York Daily News.

Recent polls of New Yorkers indicate that Paterson trails New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo by a greater than 3 to 1 margin in a hypothetical Democratic primary matchup. Cuomo, the son of former three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo, has not indicated whether he'll challenge Paterson.

Obama met with Cuomo and other top New York state officials Monday when he was in upstate New York for a speech on the economy and education. Paterson did not attend the meeting, but did greet the president at an airport arrival. Obama recognized the governor at the top of his speech.

Rep. Dan Maffei, a first term Democrat who represents voters in upstate New York, says "I, for one, welcome the president's involvement."

"Clearly, the situation in New York is unusual and requires leadership at a greater level than anyone in New York can provide," added Maffei in comments first reported by The Politico.

Recent polls also suggest that Paterson trails possible Republican challenger Rudy Giuliani by double digits in a hypothetical general election matchup. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and 2008 GOP presidential candidate, has said he'll make up his mind later this year whether he'll mount a bid for New York governor.

Rick Lazio, a former Republican congressman from Long Island who lost to then-first Lady Hillary Clinton in the 2000 Senate battle in New York, announced his own gubernatorial run Tuesday. Recent surveys suggest Paterson holds a narrow lead over Lazio in a hypothetical matchup.

The Marist poll indicates New Yorkers are split on whether Paterson will hurt other Democrats running for election in 2010. Among Democrats only, 48 percent believe he'll have a negative impact with 36 percent saying he will not hurt other candidates from his party.

But the argument that Paterson's candidacy could have a negative impact on other Democrats running for office in New York State doesn't change minds, even among Democrats. According to the survey, only 42 percent of Democrats agree with the White House, with 48 percent saying it was wrong for the White House to put pressure on Paterson.

The poll also indicates that only a quarter of all voters want Paterson to run for re-election and only 17 percent think he's doing a good or excellent job as governor.

The Marist College poll was conducted on September 22, with 616 New York State voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.


Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (295 Responses)
  1. Leftie

    Oh for God's sake! Talk about a tempest-in-teapot! He's the President; he's the top Democrat, he has every right to weigh in on any election he chooses for the good of his party! And Paterson has every right to ignore him and run anyway . . . period. Too hear all you neo-twits talk you'd think he's the ONLY elected Democrat that's telling him not to run and I'm pretty sure that's not the case!

    September 24, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. JV

    It becoming more common for democrats to stick their noses in where they don't belong.

    September 24, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. bro

    It appears this poll had very little to do with real new yorkers

    September 24, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Bill

    David Paterson will run for Congress.

    September 24, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Perhaps all of you in denial that Obama ever said anything should read the comments by Patterson's wife. SHE said he did, and why would she lie? Oh, that's right; she obviously must be one of those racist haters to speak badly of Obozo. Denial is always the first stage of curing addiction. Once you Dems get past it you can be cured of your hypnotic inability to think for yourselves.

    September 24, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. Ravi

    What??? NY of all places... a sapphire-blue State which is not typically known for its commitment to the 10th Amendment and States' rights, is telling the President to "butt out"?

    That was quite a shock, to be honest. You figure a red State might tell him to take a hike, but my home State of NY? OMG, that is hilarious!!!

    September 24, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. Glennis

    I've never seen a president who's determined to stick his nose into everything the way this one does. It is offensive. It would be slightly less so if he had a clue about anything but he's a washout there, too. Unless, of course it's campaigning. He's a one trick pony.

    September 24, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. Sandra

    Obama Obama Obama

    You are the Best. We support you.

    September 24, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Jane Solomowitz

    I am not living in New York so it's not my business who runs. The last time I checked Obama does neither live in NY or pay taxes in NY therefor he should be worried about the country no what some state official is doing. I'm not so sure that state officials will want Obama to run a 2ND term I am sure that he could care less.
    Our unemployment is well over 15-22% (although I know the government will deny that) you see when they figure what percentage of people who are out work they DO NOT CONSIDER THE PEOPLE WHO'S UNEMPLOYMENT RAN OUT AND ARE STILL NOT WORKING. People are still losing their homes, are homeless, not enough food for them to get, students have to drop out of college because they can't afford it. Banks owe the American people billions and are raising everyone rate and lowering their credit line.Millions of people have NO health benefits, People on Social Security are getting no increase in income but their health insurance is costing more therefore they will be seeing less money.
    Let President Obama worry about these things and let New York worry about Paterson running

    September 24, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Moderate Democrat

    Hmmm...I have an opinion as to whether Patterson runs or not...he shouldn't run. Oh, I'm now meddling in New Yorks business? Nah, I simply have an opinion, as does the President of the USA.

    He simply has the power and podium to be heard louder then most of us...and that pisses some of you little retards off!

    Fact is, he spoke the truth and what the majority belief, but the narrow minded morons that fill the republican party will find anything to complain about, even someone saying something they agree with. What PATHETIC little people you are.

    September 24, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Dan, IL

    Obama and Paterson should both step down.

    September 24, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. W

    Maybe Patterson will give the same advice to BO in 2012!

    September 24, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. Chris - MN

    The white house doesn't confirm the story, and the GOP rabble takes that as confirmation. Tinfoil hats, tightly secured.

    September 24, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. Donald`

    Continues to feed the perception that Washington and the Obama administration (Democrats) are trying to inject more and more federal government into people's lives. Bad move by Obama. Conservatives will somehow turn this into an argument that the federal government continues expand its power into state's rights. Although this is clearly an inner-party disagreement.

    September 24, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. Robin in Tampa, FL

    Paterson "can" run but "should" he run is a very different matter. His popularity is in the teens, there is basically no way he can turn those numbers around before the 2010 elections. If Paterson were wise he should start thinking about what's best for the Party instead of what's best for himself.

    September 24, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. MaryanneAZ

    President Obama is not only the President, he is the titular head of the Democrat Party. As such, he has the responsibility and duty to ensure that Dems win races, maintain majorities, and carry his agenda overall. There is no issue for me if the President counsels a likely to lose Governor, Senator, or Rep that they might choose not to run for the good of the Party, and the Nation overall. We believe that Dems have the better policies and ideas. There is also the issue of momentum and reputation to consider–if Dems are ousted at the State level, then the road will be steeper in national elections down the road.

    September 24, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. rob

    I'm a NY'er and I think Obama was right to say something. Patterson is an idiot and he won't get re-elected. Most people don't like him or the little bit he's trying to do.

    September 24, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. Confused Oregonian

    I did not drink the Obama Kool-Aid last year, and I'm a long ways from NY, but I'm a lifelong Democrat and I proudly voted for him. These "pressure" plays have been happening for 100 years, but behind closed doors, in smoke-filled rooms. I'm all for transparency, but I should think that POTUS has enough on his plate without micromanaging state contests. If NYers don't want Paterson at the table, they'll vote that way. Regardless, the decision, right or wrong, good or bad, should be made by NY – the whole state. Not just NYC, and certainly not WashDC.

    September 24, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Oblamba

    will be looking to Patterson for help in the near future, because Oblamba's poll numbers won't stop nosediving till they are well below David's!

    September 24, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. wagon

    Obama should pay attention to the two immediate headaches he's going to get when the Virginia and New Jersey governorships fall to the Republicans in November.

    That will be just the start.

    September 24, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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