New York mayor's race: Is liberal a lock to win Democratic nomination?

Bill de Blasio holds a wide lead in two new polls tracking the Democratic primary Tuesday for mayor of New York, but pollsters say it's unclear whether he can get the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

Mary Altaffer/AP
Democratic mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio (c.) and wife Chirlane McCray (r.) greet a supporters after a campaign rally in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. The Democratic primary election is Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio holds a wide lead in the Democratic primary race for mayor of New York, but pollsters say it's uncertain whether he can get the 40 percent of the vote in Tuesday's election needed to avoid a runoff.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday showed Mr. de Blasio, the most liberal of the three major Democratic candidates, leading among likely Democratic voters with 39 percent, followed by 25 percent for William C. Thompson,Jr., a former city controller, and 18 percent for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, caught up in a scandal involving explicit photos he sent on the Internet, was favored by 6 percent of likely voters.

De Blasio’s strong showing is a bit less impressive than his showing in a Quinnipiac poll released Sept. 3 when he was the choice of 43 percent of the likely Democratic voters.

“It looks as if Public Advocate Bill de Blasio couldn’t hold that 43 percent in a week when he was in the spotlight and got walloped by everybody,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a release accompanying the polling data. “His support by black voters slipped just enough to make a runoff possible. But he is ever so close.”

In a televised debate last week, opponents hammered de Blasio on a wide variety of issues but focused especially on his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for universal pre-kindergarten.

The Quinnipiac pollsters found that 8 percent of New York voters said they were still undecided and that 18 percent of those who did cite a favorite candidate said there was a “good chance” they could change their minds by election day.

An NBC4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Monday also found de Blasio with a chance to avoid a runoff. The poll found that 36 percent of likely Democratic voters favored de Blasio, while Mr. Thompson and Ms. Quinn each were the choice of 20 percent. Mr. Weiner received support from 7 percent. 

The de Blasio campaign “is being fueled by Democratic voters’ dislike of extending term limits, the policy of stop and frisk, and of course, the Dante effect,” according to a statement by Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. The Dante effect refers to de Blasio’s son. De Blasio is white but is married to a black woman, and his mixed-race son is prominently featured in a TV campaign commercial.  

If there is a runoff, “de Blasio starts as the early favorite,” Mr. Miringoff said. Among registered Democrats in a runoff, de Blasio leads Quinn 56 to 34. Against Thompson, de Blasio would get 50 percent of the Democratic vote to Thompson’s 38, the Marist poll found.

Democrats out number Republicans in New York City, but a Democrat has not won City Hall since 1989.

The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 782 likely Democratic primary voters from Sept. 6 to 8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The NBC4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll was conducted Sept. 3 to 6 among 556 likely primary voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

            

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