Forget the toplines, Bill Thompson is the big winner in two new polls released in the race to succeed New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg today.
While former Rep. Anthony Weiner's ascension to the top of the polls has grabbed the headlines, Thompson's rise is just as important. The two polls released in the last 24 hours show the former city comptroller making up ground on Weiner and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn after months of lagging behind by double digits.
A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday afternoon shows the three leading Democrats in a statistical tie, with Quinn at 19 percent, Weiner at 17 percent and Thompson at 16 percent. When Quinnipiac polled the race in April, shortly after Weiner revealed he was considering running, Thompson finished in fourth place with 10 percent in the Democratic primary matchup -- 18 points behind Quinn. In February, Thompson trailed Quinn by 26 points.
The WNBC-TV/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll unveiled Tuesday evening, which shows Weiner in the lead, also contains good news for Thompson. The 2009 nominee's 14 percent places him only 7 points behind Quinn for second place. In the previous Marist poll, conducted late last month, he finished 11 points behind the first-place Quinn. In Marist's February survey, Quinn outpaced Thompson by 24 points.
Thompson's uptick in the polls comes on the heels of picking up the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers, one of the city's most powerful unions. The teachers' union is expected to spend millions backing Thompson, and its president predicted the group will be "a force" in the race.
Thompson and Weiner also have profited from Quinn's declining popularity after months of attacks from opponents trying to chip away at her previously commanding primary lead. In the Quinnipiac poll, 31 percent of Democrats reported an unfavorable opinion of Quinn. In the February survey, only 12 percent of Democrats viewed the speaker unfavorably.
A few months ago, the biggest question in the race for the Democratic nomination was whether Quinn could garner the 40 percent of voters necessary to avoid a runoff. With Weiner in the race and Thompson on the rise, her spot in the runoff no longer appears to be guaranteed.