A new NY1-Marist poll released late Thursday shows City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with a nearly three-to-one lead in the Democratic primary to be New York City's next mayor, and a 46-point lead against the leading Republican candidate, former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joe Lhota.
"Right now, Quinn is in the driver's seat, but the race is still very fluid," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
In the Democratic primary, Quinn garners 37 percent of the vote, a wide plurality. Bill Thompson, former city Comptroller and the party's 2009 nominee, is second with 13 percent, followed closely by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, with 12 percent. Embattled Comptroller John Liu is fourth, with 9 percent, while former city Councilman Sal Albanese is at 2 percent. Twenty-six percent of Democratic voters are undecided.
Quinn holds a commanding 48 percent of the white Democratic vote, the poll shows, but she also claims a slim lead among African-Americans, leading Thompson, the only black candidate, 29 percent to 24 percent.
The poll shows a sharp increase for Quinn from the previous survey in early October, when Quinn led Thompson by only 8 percentage points. Quinn is seeking to become the Big Apple's first female mayor, in addition to its first gay mayor.
On the Republican side, a majority of voters are undecided, though Lhota does earn more than double the support of any other candidate with 20 percent of the vote. But 46 percent of Republicans say they have no opinion or haven't heard of Lhota, who is supported by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
As of now, the general election looks to be a cakewalk for Democrats. Quinn would lead Lhota, 64 percent to 18 percent, while Thompson and de Blasio also outpace Lhota by margins exceeding 40 percentage points. Democrats have not won a mayoral race since 1989, when David Dinkins beat Giuliani; Giuliani unseated Dinkins four years later.
Giuliani's imprimatur isn't necessarily an asset, the NY1-Marist poll shows. Though 38 percent of registered voters say Giuliani's endorsement would make them more likely to vote for the endorsed candidate, 46 percent say it would make them less likely.
The same applies to three-term, independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is expected to support Quinn. Thirty-six percent say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Hizzoner, while 44 percent would be less likely. Fourteen percent say Bloomberg's endorsement would make no difference.
The poll was conducted Feb. 4-12, surveying 1,367 registered voters. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2.7 percentage points. For the subsample of 875 Democrats, the margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.3 percentage points. For the subsample of 172 Republicans, the margin of error is plus-or-minus 7.5 percentage points.
The primary elections are currently scheduled for September, though some have attempted to have the elections moved up to June to accommodate possible runoffs. Runoffs occur in the event that no candidate reaches 40 percent of the vote, which is possible in multi-candidate fields.