Can David Paterson Do No Wrong? Can Eliot Spitzer Do No Right?

Patterson
"That's right. You know you love me. XOXO." Photo: Getty Images

Yesterday, we surmised that no one really cared about new governor David Paterson's affairs, and today new poll numbers confirm it. More than 75 percent of New Yorkers think Paterson will govern effectively, and 67 percent say he'll restore trust in state government, despite his admitted hanky-panky. Hear that everyone? Cheating on your spouse is officially A-OK in the state of New York! At least for now, that is, and certainly not if you're Eliot Spitzer. In fact, if you're Eliot Spitzer, you might want to consider the lam as a viable post-politics haunt. Poll numbers indicate that just under half of New Yorkers think Spitzer should be charged with a crime — the other half think his humiliating resignation was punishment enough. On top of that, prosecutors have asked New York authorities to pretty please put a hold on investigating Spitzer's philandering. If at all possible, they'd like to fry him in some federal oil, you see. So what's with the devil-angel governor dichotomy, and will it hold?

Paterson's approval numbers are fairly soft and likely inflated — it's hard to follow a whoring incumbent into office without a measure of honeymoon goodwill, no matter how much the new governor might have tested it with his peccadillo press conference (we know that Days Inn! It's next to our old gym, and it's downright seedy!). In the immediate wake of the Spitzer scandal, New Yorkers were willing to embrace just about anyone who was slightly less obnoxious than Spitzer, and Paterson fit the bill. In fact, 27 percent of New Yorkers indicated that given the choice, they'd elect him for the governor's seat in 2010 over Rudy Giuliani. (Mayor Bloomberg is still top dog when it comes to hypothetical elections for anything, anywhere.) Paterson has 21 months in which to either keep that faith, or lose it, and both are entirely possible. After all, Spitzer entered office with 69 percent of the vote in 2006 and look how that went! —Maggie Shnayerson

New York State Voters Have High Hopes For New Gov [Quinnipiac]