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. Michele

    I guess the President has a right to express his opinion-it's not like he can vote in their election. I didn't think so many New Yorkers LIKED Patterson anyway.

    September 24, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. amy

    New Yorkers do NOT say this. Apparently just the ones that CNN is polling. I'm from NY and the reality is that Patterson will lose the race and throw NY back to the Republicans. Obama is trying to keep the Dems is charge and frankly, I don't mind....as a NY'er

    September 24, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. Dave

    Can you imagine the public outrage if President Bush tried to do this?

    Run RUDI Run !!!!!

    September 24, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. Greg in MO

    Yes, please. And the rest of the federal government should butt out of all other "57" states as well.

    September 24, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. SeaWife

    Well, if the Dems do not want to see a win with Mr. Cuomo, then they should "butt out" as this article reads,and take their chances with a big loss with Gov. Patterson. What is wrong with the NY Dems? Do they have their heads buried in the ground?

    The White House is absolutely correct in stepping in. Gov. Patterson doesn't have a chance to win the election.

    September 24, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  6. James From Chicago

    The ones that want Obama to butt out are Republicians, they know
    if Patterson runs he will loose and it will give tem a chance to get
    a Republican in there.

    September 24, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. geecee

    Well, certainly, if the New Yorkers want their Governor to go Republican, by all means, tell the White House to stay out of it.

    September 24, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. yoyolite

    No one called me. The white house in the past has always butt into other states affairs. This is not new. I agree Patterson needs to go. The months of the NY government at a stallmate told me this guy is not the leader for us. The way he handled choosing Clinton's replacement further says INCOMPETENT. Everything Obama does is scrutinize to look suspect by CNN and the news. Others Presidents asked certain people to step down for the team. Paterson, STEP DOWN already.

    September 24, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. john

    I think the people of New York represent the people of america when they say to Obama, "Butt Out!!!"

    September 24, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. Pat F

    They are asking the Obamessiah to "butt out"????

    It is sacrilege!!!

    There is nothing that is beyond the power of the Obamessiah!

    Strong-arming Wilder to support Deeds, pushing Paterson out of office – America is one big Chicago!!

    September 24, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. JV

    They say that as Patterson's number's dip to those of George Bushs...LOL

    September 24, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. Sherri

    President Obama is over-reaching. The Feds have no business dictating to states.

    September 24, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  13. Marc L

    This is just another example of Obama crossing the line of state sovereignty vs federal powers. I would not say it is a breach of the Constitution, since all he did is make a recommendation and did not physically intervene in a state's election process, but he is dangerously close. It is probably not the first time a President has tried to sway an election in a state, but it is still dangerously close to stepping on the Constitution.

    September 24, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  14. Jackie in Dallas

    Guys, the Prez is the titular head of his party...it is part of his job within his party to try and smooth out situations. The only thing that's wrong here is that someone spilled the beans that shouldn't have been spilled. Paterson is still free to do whatever he wants; all the Prez can do is ADVISE.

    September 24, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. illinoistom

    Junior Senator Roland Burris occupies a seat in contradiction of the 17th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Why should New York be immune to this Administration's usurpation of our founding principles and rule of law?

    September 24, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. Brian

    Highly inappropriate. Backroom deals and intimidation. This is not the 'Transparency' we were promised!

    September 24, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Bill from Bay Shore NY

    The President should stay focused on the many tasks that he has taken on – New Yorkers can decide who we want to run our state. His hubris in thinking that he knows best is astounding – here's a man who has yet to accomplish anything in his term except spend money – oh wait that does make him extremely qualified to help pick our next spendthrift governor.

    September 24, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. Keeth

    So 80% of New Yorkers don't like Patterson, AND 60% don't like Obama telling Patterson what he and 80% of NY think. Ah, New York. There's a reason why I haven't been to you in over a decade.

    September 24, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. Elle

    This is a big snit over nothing. If the White House did indeed wade into the fray as to whether Governor Patterson should/not run for the Governorship of NY, then that is what is/has always been done in politics. The Republicans do it, just as well as the Democrats. This is much ado about nothing!

    September 24, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. Jeremiah

    This man is beginning to overstep his boundaries. This is digusting.

    September 24, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. ashley mckinney, texas

    I am surprised by this. But, I hope this sends a message to the White House and the Obama Administration that they are way out of line.

    September 24, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. john in binghamton NY

    I think he was just stating the obvious to a governor who clearly has his head in the sand and can't see the hand writing on the wall. Patterson and not and will not win. I hope there is a primary because Patterson doesn't know he is beat and that he should step down for the good of the state.

    September 24, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. snood

    He should butt out of it. His responsabilties are to keep the USA safe and declair diaster areas as GA and such not meddling in local politics

    September 24, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  24. Brad

    As a New Yorker, anything to get rid of Gov. Paterson is fine with me.

    September 24, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. Deb

    As a Lifelong Democrat I wonder how much of an impact Obama is going to have on the 2010 Elections???

    We The People.....

    don't like the Taste of your JUICE anymore Barry!

    September 24, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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