A majority of likely voters in September's Democratic primary think Anthony Weiner should end his candidacy to be New York's next mayor, and while a new Quinnipiac University poll shows the disgraced former congressman retains a sizable base of support and remains in the running to advance to an October 1 runoff for the top two finishers, he stands little chance of advancing past that runoff to a general election in November.
The poll, conducted entirely after revelations that Weiner's online dalliances with various women continued well after his resignation from the House, shows City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is back in front, with the backing of 27 percent of likely primary voters. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is second, at 21 percent, virtually tied with former Comptroller Bill Thompson at 20 percent. Weiner now runs fourth, with 16 percent, the poll shows. Seven percent of likely voters are undecided.
This does represent a drop for Weiner: In a Quinnipiac poll conducted just before Weiner admitted his virtual infidelities continued later that previously disclosed, Weiner led Quinn, 26 percent to 22 percent. But the new survey shows that Weiner remains tenuously in contention; because the poll carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.6 percentage points, Weiner is technically within the margin of error for second place.
The good news for Weiner ends there. A runoff, triggered if no candidate earns 40 percent of the vote, seems likely, but Weiner's standing in head-to-head matchups has fallen considerably. Last week, Quinn (46 percent) and Weiner (44 percent) ran neck-and-neck in a potential runoff, but the new poll shows Quinn clobbering him, 60 percent to 33 percent. Weiner runs farther behind Thompson, trailing 66 percent to 28 percent, up from Weiner's 11-point deficit last month. (The poll did not test runoff matchups including de Blasio because he was in fourth place in last week's survey.)
Weiner has spent the past five days batting away calls for him to drop out of the race. If he did decide to suspend his campaign, the Quinnipiac poll shows a tight three-way race for the top two spots, with Quinn (30 percent) narrowly ahead of de Blasio (25 percent) and Thompson (25 percent). But that would still trigger a runoff; while the poll didn't test de Blasio, it did find Thompson with a 10-point advantage in a runoff against Quinn, 50 percent to 40 percent. Previous surveys have shown that de Blasio, like Thompson, doesn't carry the high negatives that Quinn does.
The three leading non-Weiner frontrunners have each sought to capitalize on Weiner's disclosure. Quinn, the only female candidate, has reframed her campaign in recent days around the themes of "maturity," "seriousness" and "truth," a front-page story in the New York Times proclaimed this weekend. De Blasio, who had been considered the candidate most hurt by Weiner's entry into the race, casts himself as the most progressive candidate. And Thompson on Sunday connected the NYPD's controversial "stop-and-frisk" policies with the shooting of Trayvon Martin, earning himself A1 Times placement on Monday.
Thompson's comments, made at a "mostly black" chruch in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn, were notable for their messenger. Though he is the only major black candidate in the race, Thompson has been measured in his criticism of the NYPD. But national polling shows African-Americans are upset with the acquittal of George Zimmerman earlier this month, and black Democrats are up for grabs in the September 10 mayoral primary. Weiner has run well among this cohort: He actually leads among likely black voters in the new Quinnipiac poll, with 24 percent, to 22 percent for Thompson, 21 percent for Quinn and 16 percent for de Blasio. Without Weiner in the race, black voters split between Thompson (31 percent) and Quinn (30 percent), the poll shows. Quinn scores much better in the new poll among black voters; in last week's survey, she was at only 7 percent among this subgroup.
For now, Weiner remains defiantly in the race, against the wishes of 53 percent of likely primary voters who told Quinnipiac pollsters he should end his candidacy, while 40 percent wanted him to stay in. But only 40 percent view Weiner's behavior as "disqualifying," while another 40 say it's a factor in their vote, but not a disqualifying one, and the remaining 20 percent say it's not a factor in considering Weiner.
The survey of 446 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted July 24-28.
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