City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) has been considered the frontrunner in this year’s race for mayor all along, and a new survey by Quinnipiac University serves to bolster her standing, though with one little caveat.
If the Democratic Primary contest were held today, 37 percent of voters would cast their ballots for Quinn, the poll found. That’s more than her three closest competitors combined. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, formerly a city councilman from Brooklyn, got the nod from 14 percent of the poll’s respondents. Bill Thompson, the Democratic nominee in 2009, when he was the city comptroller, came in third at 11 percent. And current Comptroller John Liu, who previously had been the councilman from Flushing, was chosen by 9 percent.
Another 27 percent made no selection.
Quinn would, however, need at least another 3 percent to win the primary without facing a runoff, which is held if no one gets 40 percent of the vote.
“Council Speaker Christine Quinn is edging up toward that magic 40 percent that would make her the Democratic nominee without a primary runoff,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Is that possible in a four-candidate field? We’ll watch as this develops. It’s still early, unless the state Legislature moves the primary up to June.”
The poll results were announced Wednesday.
Any of the Democratic candidates would enjoy an advantage in name recognition over the Republican nominee, the poll also found. In the running on the GOP side are Joe Lhota, a former deputy mayor and MTA chairman, newspaper publisher Tom Allon, businessman George Catsimatidis, nonprofit director George McDonald and former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion.
Lhota may be the best known of the bunch and certainly has the most experience in City Hall — he was deputy mayor for operations under Rudy Giuliani, and was in that position on 9/11. But even he would be trounced by Quinn if the election were held today, according to Quinnipiac. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they would vote for the council speaker in a Quinn-Lhota contest, and only 19 percent for the ex-transit chief.
The key problem for Lhota, as well as his Republican competitors, seems to be that too few New Yorkers even know who the GOP candidates are.
“If two-thirds of New Yorkers don’t know anything about you, can you be elected mayor? That’s the question for Lhota. Every one of the Democrats clobbers him,” Carroll said. “But if Lhota is fairly anonymous, the other Republican mayoral wannabes are all but invisible.”
Another problem is philosophical. Despite Democrats not fielding a winning mayoral candidate since 1989, the electorate still leans left. Quinnipiac found, for example, that 55 percent of respondents would be more likely to vote for someone who supports “raising taxes on the wealthy,” while only 17 percent would be less likely to support that candidate. Twenty-six percent said it would make no difference to them.
The poll was conducted from Feb. 20 through 25. Much more detailed results can be found at Quinnipiac’s website.