Andrew Cuomo's "coat holding" crack about Gov. Pataki's post-Sept. 11 leadership has cost him support and damaged his image with voters, a new poll shows.

The Quinnipiac University survey, designed to gauge the impact of the controversial remark last month, found Pataki's lead has widened since Cuomo charged that the governor was only "holding Mayor Giuliani's coat" after the terrorist attack. 

The poll, released yesterday, shows Pataki now leads Cuomo 59 percent to 26 percent - up from a 54-to-30 lead the governor had in a survey conducted just before Cuomo's comments. 

Thirty-six percent of voters said Cuomo's crack made them less likely to vote for the son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo in November. Only 4 four percent said it made them more likely. 

And 28 percent of Democrats said the sharp-tongued remark, which drew widespread criticism, made it less likely they'll vote for Cuomo against his foe in the primary, state Comptroller Carl McCall. 

"Cuomo was on a campaign bus to Buffalo, with momentum on his side, when he made that remark," said Quinnipiac polling director Maurice Carroll. 

"He was headed for Buffalo, but ended up in the soup." 

The poll also found that an overwhelming number of New Yorkers disagree with Cuomo's claim that Pataki provided weak leadership after Sept. 11. 

Only 25 percent said they agree with Cuomo; a whopping 67 percent do not. 

Even 55 percent of Democrats disagree with him, compared to 36 percent who think he was right. 

The new poll found an overwhelming 71 percent of voters, including 64 percent of Democrats, believe that Pataki has "strong leadership qualities." 

Just 32 percent of all voters, 42 percent among Democrats, said Cuomo possesses strong leadership skills. 

The survey also found that Cuomo is viewed favorably by just 15 percent of voters, and 28 percent see him negatively. 

The earlier poll had found Cuomo viewed favorably by 20 percent of voters, compared with 18 percent who were negative.  

Pataki is viewed favorably by 50 percent of voters, according to the new poll, compared with just 10 percent who view him negatively. 

The latest poll also found that Cuomo has a lower positive rating, and higher negative rating, than Pataki among Democratic voters. 

Thirty-five percent of Democrats rate Pataki favorably and 13 percent rate him negatively. Cuomo is viewed favorably by 21 percent of Democrats and negatively by 15 percent. 

The good news for Cuomo is that the poll shows him continuing to lead McCall among Democrats. 

But Cuomo's 43-to-33 lead was smaller than the 44-to-30 advantage he held in the April 18 survey. 

The new poll, which surveyed 1,046 registered voters from April 23-29, has a margin of error of 3 percentage points among all voters, and 4.9 percentage points for findings among Democrats.

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