Anthony Weiner is now the most likely next mayor of New York City.
At least he is if you put faith in polls taken a couple months ahead of an election, in this case the Democratic primary for mayor and the general election to follow.
Weiner has the support of 25 percent of likely Democratic voters, according to a poll released by The Wall Street Journal, NBC and Marist College on Wednesday. That puts him ahead, for the first time, of chief rival Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker from Manhattan, who got 21 percent.
The margin of error for that section of the survey, however, was 5.2 percent, according to the pollsters, so Weiner and Quinn could actually be tied. But it’s Weiner who has the forward momentum.
Given how Weiner resigned his congressional seat in disgrace just two years ago, after sending lewd photos and messages to a number of women around the country, and then lying about it to the public for weeks, his rise in the polls could be seen as further proof that F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong when he said there are no second acts in American life.
(At least that would be true if Fitzgerald had actually said that. The supposed quote is woefully incomplete and misleading; the novelist actually said he once thought it true there were no second acts in American lives, but that there certainly was a second act for New York. How fitting.)
Weiner and Quinn far outpaced their rivals for the Democratic nomination in the poll. Former Comptroller Bill Thompson got the nod from 14 percent of those surveyed, while Public Advocate Bill de Blasio got 13 percent, Comptroller John Liu got 8 percent, Bronx pastor Erick Salgado got 2 percent and former Brooklyn Councilman Sal Albanese got 1 percent. Another 16 percent were undecided.
Weiner’s backers were also more adamant about their candidate. Forty percent said they strongly support him, compared to 23 percent who said the same about Quinn.
Going by borough, Weiner’s support was strongest in Queens and Staten Island — which the pollsters lumped together, even while producing separate numbers for the other three — where 40 percent of registered Democrats backed him. Quinn got 20 percent in the imaginary borough of Queens Staten Island, while she got 27 percent in Manhattan and Weiner got 23 percent there.
The Journal quoted Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, as saying, “Things are changing — the race has been scrambled by Weiner’s candidacy. Weiner’s candidacy has gotten more acceptable to voters since he announced. Quinn’s having a difficult time reversing what has been a slow but steady decline in her numbers.”
On the Republican side, the poll showed that former deputy mayor and recent MTA Chairman Joe Lhota has the lead, with 28 percent backing him, compared to 21 percent for grocery magnate John Catsimatidis and 10 percent for nonprofit director George McDonald. Forty percent, however, were undecided.
If the matchup were to come down to Weiner vs. Lhota vs. Adolfo Carrion, the Independence Party nominee, Weiner would win with 46 percent of registered voters of all parties, Lhota would get 17 percent and Carrion would get 10 percent, the survey said.
But it’s a long road to November. Weiner would not only have to win the September primary, but either win it with 40 percent of the vote or win a runoff against whomever comes in second. Anything can change over the summer. But if Weiner pulls it off, what a second act that would be. This is New York, after all.