(CNN) – Two new surveys suggest that David Paterson's poll numbers are inching up - but that the New York governor still trails state attorney general Andrew Cuomo by a wide margin in a hypothetical Democratic primary race.
According to a Quinnipiac University survey released Tuesday, 40 percent of New York's registered voters approve of the job Paterson's doing as governor. That's up 10 points from a Quinnipiac survey in October. The poll indicates that Paterson's disapproval rating has dropped 8 points, from 57 percent in October to 49 percent now.
A Siena College Research Institute survey released Monday suggested a similar trend, with Paterson's favorable rating at 37 percent, up 9 points from earlier this year.
But both polls indicate voters believe Paterson does not deserve election next year to a full four-year term as governor. Fifty-nine percent of people questioned in the Quinnipiac survey say Paterson doesn't deserve to be elected in 2010, a modest improvement from October, when more than two of out three voters felt the governor didn't deserve a full term. The Siena poll also indicates an improvement for Paterson, but less than one in five think he should be elected next year, with nearly two-thirds preferring someone else.
Although it is the best Paterson has done on this measurement since February, it is still more than three-to-one negative," says Siena pollster Steven Greenberg.
According to the Quinnipiac survey, Cuomo leads Paterson by 37 points in a possible 2010 Democratic primary matchup, down 5 points from October. Paterson has narrowed the record high 59-point lead lead Cuomo had last month in the Siena poll, but he still trails by 44 points. Cuomo, the son of former three-term New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, has yet to announce if he'll enter the race.
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. In September, the White House would not confirm or deny a New York Times report that the Obama Administration was urging Paterson to withdraw from the race. But sources told CNN that White House Political Director Patrick Gaspard met with Paterson, one of only two African-American governors, to let him know about the administration's concerns he could not win the governor's race, a problem that could affect races down-ticket.
Paterson went up on the airwaves in October with a major ad campaign designed to reintroduce himself to voters.
"Gov. Paterson's new TV ads depict him as a probable 2010 candidate. But New Yorkers say 2-1 fuhgeddaboutit," says Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Looking ahead to next year's general election matchup, the Quinnipiac survey puts Cuomo 40 points ahead of former Rep. Rick Lazio, the only Republican contender at the moment, with Paterson leading Lazio by 4 points, which is within the survey's sampling error. The Siena poll indicates Cuomo holds a 46 point advantage over Lazio, with Paterson ahead of him by 2 points, which is within that poll's sampling error.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted December 7-13, with 1,692 New York State voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
The Siena College Research Institute poll was conducted December 6-9, with 665 New York State registered voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percent points.
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn