Poll: Clinton unfavorable rating up at home

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s unfavorable rating among New York voters has climbed by a third since her landslide re-election victory in November, a statewide poll reported Wednesday.

In that time, she announced she was running for president.

While the Democrat’s favorable rating among New York voters remained at a robust 56 percent in the latest poll from Siena College’s Research Institute, her unfavorable rating was at 40 percent, the highest in the last two years of Siena’s polling and up from 33 percent in a January poll conducted just a few days after her presidential campaign announcement. Her unfavorable rating was 29 percent, the lowest in the past two years, immediately after her easy re-election victory over former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer.

Siena poll spokesman Steven Greenberg said the rise in Clinton’s unfavorable rating likely stemmed from her "I am in this to win" announcement on Jan. 20 that she would seek the Democratic nomination for president.

"There is clearly more attention being paid to her and the opposition is starting to get out their message more about her," said Greenberg. "Since she’s now a declared candidate, the anti-Hillary forces -- and we know they exist -- are starting to provide more information and more ammunition to their supporters."

Clinton campaign spokesman Blake Zeff noted that other national polls and statewide polls in New York have shown Clinton well ahead of her Democratic rivals and running strongly against potential Republican opponents.

"We are very gratified that polls show Hillary winning for president, but will take nothing for granted and work hard for every vote," Zeff said.

The Siena poll of New York Democrats had Clinton leading Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, 44 percent to 13 percent, for the party’s nomination. Former Vice President Al Gore stood at 11 percent and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina at 8 percent.

On the Republican side, New York’s GOP voters favored former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, 45 percent to 17 percent, over Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Running third among the state’s GOP voters was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 11 percent, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 5 percent and former New York Gov. George Pataki at 3 percent.

The poll found the favorable rating for Pataki, who has not yet said if he will run for president, down to 36 percent, the lowest level in the past two years of Siena’s polling. His unfavorable rating in the new poll was 57 percent, the highest level in the past two years. Pataki’s approval rating was 41 percent in Siena’s mid-November poll.

Pataki did not seek re-election to a fourth term in November when voters chose Democrat Eliot Spitzer to replace him as governor.

Siena’s telephone poll of 620 registered voters was conducted Feb. 15-19 and has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.