The Rise and Fall of Spitzer's Popularity

November 24, 2007 10:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A year after a record-breaking gubernatorial victory, the New York governor’s ratings plummet; the press that built him up so high, now knocks him down.

30-Second Summary

In 2005, when Gov. Eliot Spitzer was still New York’s attorney general, a Vanity Fair profile of him averred that “to the man on the street he’s a hero,” complete with “dashing good looks and self-deprecating charm.”

In February 2007, New York Magazine depicted the new governor’s attempts to reform Albany during his first month in office as the work of a “crusader for what’s right—not simply on a policy level but on a good-versus-evil level.” Now, in November, the same publication describes a very different Spitzer, one in need of an advisor to “tune his political tin ear.”

After a record-breaking 69 percent victory in last year’s election, a recent poll found that only 25 percent of the electorate would reinstate him given the opportunity to vote today.

His difficulties began with an investigation into claims that Spitzer’s aides had used state troopers to track the movements of political opponent Joseph Bruno.

The latest problem to beset the beleaguered governor arose from a controversial plan to offer driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Spitzer backed off from that policy on Nov. 13, a U-turn described by the legislation's opponents as unprincipled and by its supporters as cowardly.

In the press, Spitzer’s confrontational attitude, which once commanded such respect, is now broadly depicted as arrogant and hubristic. A New York Times op-ed described Spitzer’s defeat over driver’s licenses—labeled a “national smackdown”—as his last opportunity to learn to temper his counterproductive, aggressive style.

In that regard, the Times’s assessment is fairly similar to that of The New York Sun. The Sun surmises that if Spitzer’s recent failures end his “messianic” attitude, then they may be “the best thing that has happened to his administration since Day 1."

Headline Links: Driver’s licenses, online sales tax and gay marriage

The New York Post attacks Spitzer on a new front

Background: Spitzer’s political history


Contra Spitzer
What the pundits said back in the day
A hard lesson
Pro Spitzer

Reference Material: Polls and biography


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