Former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner's campaign prospects have improved since his entrance into the mayoral race, while City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is losing ground, according to a new poll.
In the first survey of likely voters since Weiner declared his candidacy last week, the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion found that 19 percent of Democrats said they'd vote for Weiner in their party's primary, an increase of four percentage points from a similar poll in April.
Quinn, meanwhile, has the support of 24 percent of Democrats, down from 26 percent.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is in third, with 12 percent, followed closely by Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller, with 11 percent. In fifth is John Liu, the current comptroller, at 8 percent. Former City Councilman Sal Albanese has 1 percent, and a Staten Island minister, Erick Salgado, has less than 1 percent.
Twenty-three percent of Democratic voters haven't decided who they plan to support, the poll found.
With so many candidates clustered together — and with only 44 percent of Democrats paying attention — the race remains "very, very fluid," Lee Miringoff, the institute's director, said. "It is pointing toward a runoff."
If none of the candidates wins 40 percent of the vote in September's primary, the top two finishers will go head-to-head in a runoff to decide who faces the Republican candidate.
The poll of 492 Democrats was conducted last Wednesday — the day Weiner ended months of speculation and formally entered the race — through last Friday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Weiner, 47, resigned from his Brooklyn congressional seat in June 2011 after using Twitter to send provocative photos of himself to women. When the exchanges became public, he claimed he’d been hacked. He eventually confessed and went into virtual hiding with his wife, Huma Abedin, a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton. At the time, Abedin was pregnant with their first child.
Weiner has long desired to be mayor. He ran in 2005, and nearly forced a runoff against Fernando Ferrer, but conceded in the name of party solidarity. He planned to run again in 2009, and was considered a leading contender, but dropped out after Mayor Bloomberg chose to run for a third term.
Prior to his unraveling, Weiner had begun to plan for a 2013 campaign. He still has more than $4 million in his campaign account.
The poll shows that Weiner's most significant effect on the race so far has been to siphon support from his rivals, Miringoff said. While Quinn has been suffering from attacks typical of a frontrunner, de Blasio, Thompson and Liu haven't been able to make any progress themselves.
"Weiner is taking a lot of numbers out of the pool," Miringoff said.
Further evidence of how wide-open the 2013 race remains is that only 39 percent of Democrats say they're strongly committed to their choice. A quarter of respondents said they might change their minds.
Weiner's supporters appear more committed to him than Quinn's: 43 percent of those who chose the former congressman said they strongly supported him, compared to 30 percent for Quinn.
But in a hypothetical runoff, Quinn would trounce all of her opponents, the poll found. Against Weiner she'd win 48 percent to 33 percent.
A key reason for that gap appears to be lingering discomfort with Weiner's past misdeeds. More than a third of voters said he didn't have the character to be mayor. And Weiner remains a polarizing figure among party faithful: Democrats were split, 44 percent to 44 percent, on whether they had positive or negative impressions of him. Twelve percent said they were unsure.
Quinn, by contrast, enjoys a 60 percent favorable rating among Democrats, and a 26 percent negative rating.
Thompson, de Blasio and Liu also have higher favorable ratings than Weiner, with 52 percent, 50 percent and 45 percent, respectively.
Albanese and Salgado remain largely unknown.