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Long IslandPolitics

Poll: Most NYers want same-sex marriage legalized

New York Gov. David Paterson's popularity inthe state continues to tank, but his effort to legalize same-sexmarriage has the support of a majority of voters, according to apoll released Monday.

The Siena College Research Institute poll found the Democrat isnow viewed unfavorably by 63 percent of New Yorkers, down from 58percent last month.

His job performance rating stood at 81 percent negative after aseries of missteps eroded the strong public support he enjoyed whenhe was thrust into office 13 months ago as the state's first blackand legally blind governor.

Earlier polls have shown several issues hurt Paterson, includinghis secretive budget process that raised taxes but cut spendingless than he promised, and how he handled filling Secretary ofState Hillary Rodham Clinton's vacated Senate seat, a botchedprocess that ended in unfounded leaks of accusations againstone-time candidate Caroline Kennedy.

The Siena poll also found 53 percent of voters want a gaymarriage bill backed by Paterson passed in the Senate, where itcontinues to languish. Support was strongest among New York CityDemocrats, the political base of the governor from Harlem.

Thirty-nine percent of voters oppose the measure including mostRepublicans, men, older voters, blacks and Protestants.

The Senate, with a 32-30 Democratic majority, so far doesn'thave enough Democrats on board to pass Paterson's gay marriagebill. The GOP minority claims it's solidly opposed.

Earlier this month, a Quinnipiac University poll showed that 41percent of New York voters backed legalized same-sex marriage, 33percent favored civil unions, and that 19 percent wanted no legalrecognition for such couples.

Voters also said they would prefer any of Paterson's threepredecessors to him, including Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced fellowDemocrat whom Paterson succeeded in 2008. Former governors MarioCuomo, a Democrat, and Republican George Pataki also ranked higherthan Paterson, according to the poll.

Paterson plans to seek election in 2010, but polls show that atthis point he would be trounced by several potential opponents, ledby Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Republican RudyGiuliani.

"If the governor was hoping that the passage of an on-timebudget, or his recent road trip to distribute money forinfrastructure and other projects, was going to help begin to raisehis popularity after two months of dramatic decline, he is going tobe disappointed," said pollster Steven Greenberg.

The latest Siena poll surveyed 682 registered voters from Mondaythrough Wednesday last week. It has margin of error of nearly 4percentage points.

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On the Net: www.siena.edu/sri/sny

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