If Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner are turning the city's elections into a turnoff, someone might want to tell the voters.
Both the post-scandal candidates are making strong showings in their respective races, a poll showed Monday.
Spitzer tops Democratic rival Scott Stringer in the city comptroller's race by a commanding 48-33 percent among registered Democrats, while Weiner is about even with his closest rival, Christine Quinn — 25 percent to 22 percent — in the crowded Democratic mayoral field, according to the Quinnipiac University poll.
Weiner is seeking the mayor's job after resigning from Congress over lewd tweets he sent to several women. Spitzer is trying to become city comptroller after stepping down as governor in a prostitution imbroglio.
Monday's survey was the first to gauge both contests since Spitzer splashed into the comptroller's campaign a week ago.
Some political experts have said they could hurt each other's chances by turning discussions of the campaigns into sex scandal central, potentially leaving voters with a sort of forgiveness fatigue.
But instead, both seem to be benefiting from the swarm of attention — however harsh some may be, said the poll's director, Maurice Carroll.
"They're all over the tabloids, so, clearly, that notoriety has produced a certain celebrity. Celebrity, presumably, has produced — at least in the polls — support," he said.
"Will that support hang on? We'll see."
Some voters may be relating to the men's views of themselves as now-outsiders shaking up campaigns, or to their narratives of seeking redemption, said political science professor Douglas Muzzio.
"It's almost like elections as psychotherapy, but it seems to be working," he said.
The poll surveyed 738 registered city Democrats between July 8 and 14, and its margin of error is 3.6 percentage points.
For two men whose candidacies prompted women's advocates to hold a news conference last week denouncing them, both drew healthy support from women Democrats in the poll.
Some 44 percent chose Spitzer compared to 32 percent for Stringer, while Weiner got 21 percent to Quinn's 22 percent. Quinn, the City Council speaker, is the only woman in the mayor's race.
Still, there are signs voters may have misgivings about the comeback candidates.
More respondents view Spitzer unfavorably than favorably, 50 percent to 45 percent. And while Weiner's favorable-unfavorable rating is 42 percent to 36 percent, another 18 percent say they haven't heard enough to make up their minds.
Spitzer said in a statement that the poll results were gratifying, while stressing that he "didn't take a poll to enter this race."
Stringer didn't immediately comment, though his campaign sent out a news release saying his campaign had raised more than $183,000 in the last four days. Currently the Manhattan borough president, he had been strongly favored in the comptroller's race before Spitzer launched his self-financed bid.
Weiner — whose campaign raised more than $800,000 in the last two months, the city Campaign Finance Board said Monday — also didn't immediately comment. Some rivals downplayed the numbers.
"The polling in this race will continue to change from week to week," said Quinn spokesman Mike Morey, adding that "what won't change" is what she can offer voters from her experience.
The poll also found former city Comptroller Bill Thompson at 11 percent among registered Democrats.
Quinnipiac's last poll, which fell shortly after Thompson scored a key endorsement in late June, had him near a three-way tie in the high teens with Quinn and Weiner. Now, he's closer to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio at 10 percent and current Comptroller John Liu at 7 percent. Former City Councilman Sal Albanese gets 1 percent.
"Bad early polls don't freak me out; good early polls don't make me dance," said Thompson campaign manager Jonathan Prince. Thompson has noted that 2009 polls significantly underestimated how close he ultimately came to unseating Mayor Michael Bloomberg that year.
Bloomberg is term-limited and leaving office after this year.
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