Democrat John Kerry (search) has a hefty double-digit lead over President Bush among New York state voters, according to a statewide poll released Wednesday.

The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute (search) found Bush's approval rating had slipped to 40 percent in New York, the lowest point yet for the Republican incumbent. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bush's approval rating in New York had soared above 80 percent.

In the latest poll from the Hamden, Conn.-based institute, Kerry was favored by 53 percent of New York voters to 36 percent for Bush in a head-to-head matchup. In a November poll from Quinnipiac, conducted before the presidential primary began, Kerry led Bush, 50 percent to 42 percent.

With independent Ralph Nader (search) in the mix, the new poll found Kerry at 49 percent, Bush at 35 percent and Nader at 6 percent.

While the state is heavily Democratic — 5 million Democrats to 3 million Republicans — three-term Republican Gov. George Pataki (search) has been bragging that Bush would become the first GOP presidential candidate to carry New York since Ronald Reagan did it twice, in 1980 and 1984.

The Republican National Convention will be held in New York City in August.

Quinnipiac's telephone poll of 1,279 registered voters was conducted April 5-12 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.