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. Grrr-awful-o

    Obama is a curious specimen. He makes friends with his enemies and enemies of his friends. It's definitely a Change. Not sure if you can believe in it though.

    September 24, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. Jimmy the Greek

    Funny... Obama refused to comment on Iran's election protest because he didn't want to "meddle" ....

    ... but he's just fine with saying the Cambridge Police acted "stupidly", wasted time drinking beer with these guys, and now wants to DICTATE the NY governors race??

    Can SOMEONE... anyone...please tell Obama what "meddling" really is??? It's WASTING your time with issues you're not wanted or needed!!

    September 24, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Charles Feingold

    The Federal government must back out of trying to control the State governments.

    September 24, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. Lara

    Sorry I think he was right to step in. After what happened in Albany I felt he doesn't know how to run a State especially one as great as New York! I heard him one time on a radio show where he said he had the best job in the world. All he had to do is wake up call the office and ask if the if the Governer was there. If they said yes he went back to bed. He has made a lot of mistakes in handling our problems and it is better to vote someone we know can handle a Governers responisblities.

    September 24, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. Marty

    Mr. Steinhauser,

    This is a very disrespectful way of addressing our president: "Butt-out" please!

    Another example of disgraceful journalism

    September 24, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. Charles Favreau

    Meddling or not, discouraging a sure loser from running for governor, losing and giving New York State over to a Right-wing conservative, reactionary governor would be disastrous for the Democrats at a time at which they are most vulnerable. Polls show that Cuomo will beat the pants off Giuliani, and that Giuliani would do the same to Patterson. Patterson should have shown some Party loyalty and quit when the hand-writing was on the wall so this would have not been necessary.

    September 24, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. Lee in Oregon

    Let's get real Democrats. President Obama needs all the support he can get to make the real change we voted him in for and that includes governors. Since the governor's ratings are at an all time low, one would think that he would step aside and do what was best for this country and his party.

    Ask yourself.......do we really need another Republican in office? I think not.

    September 24, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. Mark

    NY being the liberal mecca gives Obama every right to have say in their politics.

    September 24, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. huh?

    So, Marist College spent the money to run a poll about something that is alledged to have happened? People have no idea if Obama said anythig, but they are ready to disagree with him . . . talk about making a news story about NOTHING. Way to go CNN!!! Your are now reporting on a poll about something that didn't happen, this is really interesting . . .

    September 24, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. Norm

    This was reported that Obama said this by the media. The White House is ignoring them because they never said it. Once again the media is creating turmoil in our country with their biased and racist lies. No big surprise. Show me where the White House or President Obama actually made this statement. You can't!

    September 24, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. Ken Barber

    I believe that Patterson has demonstrated that he is a capable of governing a state. Anyone who says he shouldn't because he's blind is pathetic. Barack is simply trying to put someone who might have higher poll numbers than Patterson, but I believe the more people try to talk Patterson out of running, the more they see him being picked on for his blindness, which in turn, will allow him to get reelected.

    September 24, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. John in Tampa

    I'm an independent in Florida. A Democratic federal administration has the right to play internal party politics-but not publicly. It is okay to voice your fears in private but this should not have become what it has. You've shot yourself in the foot, and I'm finally beginning to wonder how many feet you have left,.

    September 24, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. justin

    he should butt out of humana health cares affairs as well

    September 24, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. mag

    what is wrong with the leader of a party providing advice ??

    September 24, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. Norm

    I love how the media says "One source" and cannot give the name of the person that said this statement was made. They love to sell lies and the idiots out there just eat it up.
    WHO said the White House made this suggestion???? We are only ever given half of the facts and the most important ones are left out. People buy into this because of the low IQ that makes up most of this nation.

    September 24, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  16. Nana5

    New Yorkers are right – Obama should butt out. He thinks he has to run everything and is a master at nothing. Here's an idea – let him get ONE, Just One thing right and then maybe he can move onto something else. Trying to be God isn't working for him.

    September 24, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  17. Grrr-awful-o

    Ah, but you voted him in, NY. A no one thought to vet him because he looks and speaks so well. Doh! Now we all have to live with him and his control issues.

    September 24, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. Paul, CA

    That's rich coming from a state and city that helped put him in the Whitehouse. Live with it!! Those of us who didn't vote for him have to!

    September 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. Monrob

    I think Obama is right on this one.

    Though I like Paterson, he has no chance of winning and by running we are handing Guiliani or another republican the governorship.

    Do we New Yorkers remember how much we loved NOT Guiliani?

    September 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  20. David

    Amen! The federal government needs to stay out of state elections. They are overstepping their bounds, as usual.

    September 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. Rose

    I agree with the New Yorkers, Obama should butt out. He is acting like he is still involved with ACORN, trying to persuade the voters to vote for the candidate he wants to fill that seat. Shame on him.

    September 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  22. J.S.

    The current administration seems to be 'meddling' in everything His song video to the schools about him is ridiculous..you can't pledge allegiance to the flag in some schools or say prayers in school but you can pay homage to him

    September 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  23. Chris (Buffalo, NY)

    Although Mr. Paterson's effectiveness is questionable, it is important to recognize that the New York State legislature is probably the most dysfunctional in the nation.

    Although it may be good politics to get Paterson off of the top of the state ticket, the White House should have spoken with him privately. To do this publicly embarasses Paterson and makes it more difficult for him to acheive his agenda.

    September 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  24. Johnny DC

    Try this - AMERICANS say the White House should butt out.

    September 24, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. dcwilson

    Okay, of those who say "butt out" (media's phrase, not the polls') how many say they'll vote for Patterson? This is silly.

    September 24, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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