Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner formally unveiled his campaign to become New York City's mayor late on Tuesday, and just a few hours later, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows Weiner remains in second place in September's Democratic primary following his six-week trial balloon. With Christine Quinn's standing in the primary continuing to slip, according to the poll, the City Council speaker edges closer to losing her early frontrunner status, and the race is wide open.
Quinn leads Weiner, 25 percent to 15 percent, the poll shows. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, the party's 2009 nominee, are tied for third place, each earning 10 percent of the vote. John Liu, the current comptroller, is at 6 percent, and former Councilman Sal Albanese is at 2 percent. More than one in four voters, 27 percent, are undecided.
In the previous poll, conducted about a month ago, Quinn led Weiner, 28 percent to 15 percent.But while the change in Quinn's vote share is within the margin of error, she has slipped significantly on another important measure. Asked whether they approve of the way she is handling her job as Council speaker, 59 percent of Democrats say they do, while 30 percent disapprove. In early April, 68 percent of Democratic voters approved of Quinn's job performance, compared to only 14 percent who disapprove.
Quinn, who is seeking to become the Big Apple's first female mayor, has slipped marginally among women, from 32 percent last month, to 26 percent in the new survey, largely erasing the gender gap that existed in last month's Quinnipiac poll.
The magic number for the Democrats is 40 percent: That's what a candidate needs to earn in the Sept. 10 primary to avoid a surely-hectic runoff, which is scheduled to be held only two weeks later. The farther Quinn falls below the 40-percent mark -- she crested as high as 37 percent in Quinnipiac's pre-Weiner polling, though her drop had started before the school began testing Weiner as a candidate -- the more certain that runoff becomes.
Meanwhile, Weiner's entry into the race came via a web video quietly unveiled late Tuesday night. The video opens in Weiner's kitchen, where he, his wife Huma Abedin and their son, Jordan, are having breakfast. "Every day starts right here," Weiner says in a calm voiceover. "And it's the best part of my day."
The image is surely designed to soften Weiner's image following the sexting scandal that forced him to abandon his congressional career in 2011. He more directly addresses that scandal later in the 2-minute video. "Look, I've made some big mistakes," Weiner says, direct-to-camera. "And I know I let a lot of people down. But I've also learned some tough lessons."
Casting himself as a middle-class warrior, Weiner says, "I'm running for mayor because I've been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life, and I hope I get a second chance to work for you."
And Abedin herself offers a brief testimonial, seated next to her husband on his childhood stoop in Park Slope. "We love this city, and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony," she says.
Overall, the poll shows, 41 percent of Democrats think Weiner should run for mayor, down a tick from the 45 percent who thought he should run in mid-April, following the New York Times Magazine profile in which he first admitted his interest in the race. Forty-four percent of Democrats think he shouldn't mount a comeback bid in the mayoral contest, up the same notch from 41 percent last month.
"Weiner has been at 15 percent two polls in a row," observes Mickey Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Can he get to 16 percent?"
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted May 14-20, surveying 701 registered Democrats. The poll carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.7 percentage points.