A new Quinnipiac University poll of likely Democratic primary voters in New York City's mayoral election (and sideshow), conducted mostly before the latest revelations about Anthony Weiner's online behavior, shows Weiner still slightly ahead in the September 10 primary. But if Weiner slips out of the top two candidates -- or drops out of the race entirely -- former Comptroller Bill Thompson is in the driver's seat to capture his party's nomination once again.
Weiner led the primary in the poll, which was conducted July 18-23, with the support of 26 percent of likely voters. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was second, with 22 percent, while Thompson, the 2009 Democratic nominee, was third with 20 percent. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was at 15 percent, and Comptroller John Liu was fifth, with 7 percent. Eight percent of likely voters are undecided.
Of the six nights of interviews included in the poll, only the final night came as Weiner confirmed that he continued his salacious Internet behavior with other women after he was first exposed and forced to resign from Congress in 2011. So while the new poll shows him in first place, his chances of qualifying for a top-two runoff are likely compromised; more light will be shed on the extent to which these developments will hurt Weiner when the first post-revelation poll from Marist College is released at noon on Thursday.
But, in the meanwhile, the poll shows that, if Weiner is damaged or withdraws from the race, Thompson is the new favorite. Weiner supporters were asked for their second choice, and with those allocated, Quinn holds a slight lead over Thompson, 30 percent to 26 percent, with de Blasio at 21 percent.
If no candidate can cross the 40-percent threshold, it would trigger an Oct. 1 runoff. And in a runoff between Thompson and Quinn, Thompson holds a clear lead, 51 percent to 42 percent. That includes a sharp gender gap: Thompson leads among men, 59 percent to 36 percent, while the two candidates are tied at 46 percent each among female voters. Thompson, the only African-American candidate in the race, would hold a 6-point edge among white voters in the runoff with Quinn, 49 percent to 43 percent. Only 5 percent say they would be undecided in a Quinn-Thompson runoff.
Weiner's admission on Tuesday throws a wrench into the race, and it's not impossible that, if he leaves the race or his support sharply craters, Quinn could emerge with 40 percent of the vote. But the poll also shows that, almost entirely pre-admission, more Democratic voters said they definitely would not vote for Quinn (31 percent) under any circumstances than said the same about Weiner (28 percent).
Quinn did lead a runoff matchup with Weiner, 46 percent to 44 percent, though that result was within the margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points. Unless her competition is Weiner, and assuming she even finishes in the top two on primary day, Quinn is likely to begin the 3-week sprint to the runoff as the underdog.
The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 507 likely primary voters.