Last week, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) made his first major return to the public eye with a lengthy New York Times Magazine interview in which he addressed for the first time the lewd photo scandal that led him to resign from office and said he’s considering entering the New York City mayoral election this year. Most of his rivals and other insiders greeted Weiner’s arrival with skepticism, but a new poll of the race shows him with strong support.This evening, NBC New York and Marist College released the first major mayoral race poll that includes Weiner. It shows him in second place in a hypothetical Democratic primary, polling at 15 percent, behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with 26 percent.
In New York’s Democratic mayoral primary, the two top vote-getters meet in a runoff if no candidate earns more than 40 percent of the vote. Weiner’s poll numbers have him qualifying for a runoff faceoff against Quinn, which is remarkable since, in spite of months of signs he might enter the race, many of his potential rivals did not even bother including him in their internal polls.
One of Weiner’s naysayers prior to the poll was George Arzt, a political consultant with over four decades of City Hall experience, who told TPM last week that Weiner had no shot at winning.
“If he gets ten to fifteen percent, I would call that a victory,” Arzt said.
With Weiner debuting at that level, we asked Arzt Tuesday if he would change his tune. Arzt stuck by his guns.
“I don’t believe that he can grow and I believe he’s near his ceiling. I think the more people know about him the more they won’t vote for him,” said Arzt.
The poll showed City Comptroller John Liu in third place with 12 percent of the vote and a tie for fourth place at 11 percent between Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and the runner-up in the 2009 mayoral election, Bill Thompson. It also showed 22 percent of Democratic voters remain undecided.
Many of the doubters we spoke with before the new poll was released dismissed the idea that Weiner would have any meaningful impact on the race. One thing is clear with this new poll, whether or not Weiner will win, or even enter the race, he does seem to have shifted the landscape.
Quinn’s support was down 11 percent from the last Marist poll, which was conducted in February. Thompson and de Blasio were also down slightly.
In that last poll and similar surveys from Quinnipiac, Quinn was nearing the 40 percent threshold necessary to avoid a runoff. Whether Weiner can hold his second place position remains to be seen, but it would seem his presence in the primary is making it far more likely to be a two-round contest.
Weiner declined to discuss the poll, or his plans, with TPM in Tuesday.