Republican Gov. George Pataki (search) has narrowed the gap against state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (search) in a possible 2006 governor's race, according to a statewide poll released Monday.

The Siena College Research Institute (search) poll of registered voters had Democrat Spitzer leading Pataki 48 percent to 34 percent. A Siena poll conducted last month had Spitzer leading Pataki 53 percent to 30 percent.

Pataki has not said if he will seek a fourth, four-year term. Spitzer has said he will run for governor.

Joseph Caruso, the Loundonville-based institute's polling director, said Pataki "seems to have gotten a bounce from the widespread media attention to the state's first on-time budget in 21 years."

The Legislature adopted a more than $105 billion budget on March 31.

The survey also found that 29 percent of those asked would vote for Pataki, up from 24 percent in the earlier poll.

Fifty percent said they had a favorable opinion of Pataki, up from 37 percent. In a separate question, 53 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Spitzer.

"George Pataki has made up ground with voters in virtually every part of the state and in every demographic group," Caruso said. "But if he chooses to run for re-election, he is still in an uncomfortable position for an incumbent given his continued low `re-elect number.'"

Siena's telephone poll of 582 registered voters was conducted April 3-7 and has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points