Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spitzer knew more, says poll


Spitzer knew more, says poll
Friday, July 27th 2007

ALBANY, N.Y. - Half of New Yorkers suspect Gov. Eliot Spitzer knew more than he has said about a plot by his aides to use state police against Republican Senate leader Joseph Bruno, according to a WNBC-Marist College poll released Friday.

Eight in 10 voters also think Spitzer should testify in any further investigation. Even so, Spitzer - who has told reporters he was misled by his aides - continues to enjoy strong job approval ratings in the poll, which was conducted Wednesday and Thursday amid heavy news coverage of the controversy.

Meanwhile, the man who detailed the scandal in a report Monday, Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, is for the first time Albany's most popular statewide official. Cuomo's rating jumped to 52 percent, up from 40 percent in March. Even Republicans - 40 percent - and upstaters - 46 percent - say he is doing an excellent or good job.

Cuomo's investigative report found that although no laws were broken, two top Spitzer aides collected state police data for release to a reporter to discredit Bruno for using state aircraft on days he attended Republican fundraisers. Spitzer suspended one aide and transferred the other.

Cuomo has also spent much of the spring on his national investigation of conflicts of interest between student loan companies and colleges. The state Legislature and Congress acted on reforms Cuomo recommended.

But the poll focused on Spitzer, the "Sheriff of Wall Street" during his eight years as attorney general and a Democrat who won a historic share of the vote last year, in part by promising to clean up Albany.

"On the one hand, you have political fallout of a major nature for the governor," said Lee Miringoff of the Marist poll. "The good news is that the events of the past week didn't dramatically change how voters view him."

Spitzer was rated excellent or good in his job by 47 percent of those polled, up from 43 percent in March. But that's low for the Democrat who won office in November with a historic 69 percent of the vote, Miringoff said.

And New Yorkers still think Spitzer is the guy for the job: 66 percent - more than in March - think he is good for the state and more than half think he is a "new kind of independent politician" who is changing Albany for the better. Still, 41 percent feel his style is too confrontational for a governor.

"People don't think he was forthcoming (in the scandal). They think he should testify," Miringoff said. "But as far as how he's doing in Albany, that is basically intact."

Bruno, however, remains in low esteem outside his Albany-area district. The poll found that just 26 percent of New Yorkers said the longtime Senate majority leader was doing an excellent or good job. The story is the same for Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of lower Manhattan, who attracted the highest ratings from only 28 percent of those polled.

There was no immediate comment from Spitzer or Bruno. Cuomo spokesman Jeffrey Lerner declined comment.

The telephone poll of 554 registered voters has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

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