It wasn’t just Anthony Weiner who got encouraging news from the new Wall Street Journal/NBC New York/Marist College poll.
The poll also suggests former city Comptroller Bill Thompson’s position is improving. He’s still in a statistical tie with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in the multi-candidate primary, according to the poll. But he’s also tied in potential runoffs with Mr. Weiner and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Mr. de Blasio trails them both.
That could add strength to the Thompson campaign’s argument that his candidacy is stronger than it looks. As the only black candidate in the race, Mr. Thompson hopes to win 70% of the African-American vote–a figure his aides say is in line with past black candidates. Coupled with a strong showing among Latinos, and provided large numbers of both groups show up to vote, that would likely be enough to put him into the runoff.
That black support is showing some signs of materializing. In a Marist College poll last month , Ms. Quinn led among African-Americans with 26% of the vote compared to 15% for Mr. Thompson and 17% for Mr. Weiner.
This month, Ms. Quinn slipped among blacks. She and Mr. Thompson are essentially tied–he had 21% and she had 19%. Mr. Weiner had 26%.
And while all voters aren’t paying much attention to the race, minorities are paying the least. Among whites, 47% say they’re following the race closely or very closely, compared to 43% of blacks, 33% of Latinos and 26% of Asians. The Thompson campaign’s strategy rests on the idea that as black and brown voters begin to tune in closer the the Sept 10 primary, they’ll identify with Mr. Thompson and support him.
That might not happen. Mr. Thompson faces strong competition for minority voters from his rivals. When more Democrats start paying attention closer to the primary, they could look at Mr. Thompson and decide to support someone else. Two unions with heavily minority memberships, 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East and DC37, which represents city employees, have endorsed Mr. de Blasio and Comptroller John Liu, respectively.
Still, in potential runoffs where he’s running even with Ms. Quinn and Mr. Weiner, Mr. Thompson seems strong. He leads the better-known Ms. Quinn among blacks by 11 points and is tied with her among Latinos, according to the poll. Against Mr. Weiner, who also has higher name recognition, he loses Latinos by 8 points but is tied among blacks and wins overwhelmingly among whites.
Mr. de Blasio has tried to make inroads among black voters, in part by putting his biracial family on view. But in potential runoffs with Ms. Quinn and Mr. Weiner, he loses them handily, according to the poll.
As he left a candidates forum Tuesday night, Mr. Thompson, who narrowly lost to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009 after polls predicted a much wider margin, said he’s not paying attention to them this time around.
“These polls have shown themselves to be incredibly inaccurate,” he said. “If you go back to 2009, I think they said it was going to be a blowout, and I almost won that election. So I don’t really place a lot of faith in these polls.”
On Twitter, Jonathan Prince, his chief strategist and a former official in President Barack Obama’s State Department, voiced a similar sentiment and suggested that the other two candidates were leading because they’re better known, calling it the “The Name Rec Shuffle”.
I think Thompson just has to make the runoff in order to become the next mayor of NYC.
It's possible that Quinn and Weiner will be the two players in the runoff in September, but I'm betting my 2013 "S" rating that one of them doesn't make it and Thompson does.
Here's why I think that:
Quinn and de Blasio are going to go nuclear on Weiner now that there's a poll showing him in the lead.
They have to take him down now before the meme that Weiner has all the momentum solidifies and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
As often happens when candidates go negative, they drive down their own numbers along with the target of their negative ads.
Quinn has seen her numbers drop from 37% in February to 20% now.
De Blasio has never gotten more than 14% in any poll for the race.
If and when they go at Weiner, they probably can take some of his support away from him, but I wouldn't bet that it goes to them.
It just might go to the one candidate who doesn't engage in the negative advertising - Thompson.
We'll see how this all plays out.
But right now, if you're Thompson and you're looking at a slight uptick of support in the Marist poll and a statistical tie in a runoff with either Weiner or Quinn, you're feeling really good about your chances.
No wonder the UFT endorsed Thompson.
They think they may have a winner on their hands.
And the way the polling is looking right now, that may just be a good bet.
UPDATE: Quinnipiac poll out tonight showing Quinn, Weiner, and Thompson in a statistical dead heat:
Bill Thompson's up, Chris Quinn is down and Anthony Weiner's the man in the middle in a new Quinnipiac poll showing a dead heat in the Democratic race for mayor.
Quinn, the City Council speaker and perennial frontrunner -- at least until a WSJ/NBC/Marist poll showed Weiner jumping to the head of the primary class this week -- remains in the lead in the just-released Q poll.
She's at 19% support, trailed by Weiner at 17% and Thompson at 16% -- a statistical tie.
“Former Comptroller William Thompson’s spurt – no doubt spurred in part by his endorsement last week by the United Federation of Teachers – is the big news in this new poll. The other news is Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s slide and that’s more puzzling,” said Quinnipiac's Maurice Carroll.
This poll just reinforces what I was thinking about the race after the Marist poll.
Quinn is in trouble.
Weiner has some momentum but hasn't gotten much scrutiny yet - we'll see what happens to that momentum after he gets targeted by Quinn and de Blasio.
De Blasio is essentially dead in the water - stuck as always at 10%.
And Thompson is picking up support.
Quinn lost six points, Weiner gained two, Thompson gained six.
We have a wide open race.