Just days after disgraced former New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer announced he would return to politics to run for New York City comptroller, he leads his opponent, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, by nine percentage points. Among registered Democrats in New York City, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, if the Democratic primary were held today, Spitzer receives the support of 42% compared with 33% for Stringer. One percent is behind another candidate. A notable 24% are undecided.
POLL MUST BE SOURCED: NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll*
“Right now, New York City Democrats are willing to give Spitzer a second chance, but the big question is what happens after the shock value of his return to politics fades and the campaign for comptroller heats up,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Having just recently gone down a similar path with Anthony Weiner, Democrats may reach redemption overload for one or both of these candidates.”
While Spitzer leads Stringer among both men and women, he does slightly better among men.
- Among men who are Democrats, 44% are for Spitzer while 30% are for Stringer.
- 40% of women who are Democrats support Spitzer compared with 34% for Stringer.
Spitzer leads among African American and Latino voters. Stringer has the advantage among white voters.
- Among Democrats who are African American, Spitzer is favored by 50% while 25% support Stringer.
- Spitzer — 46% — outpaces Stringer — 29% among Latino Democrats.
- Stringer leads Spitzer among white voters, 46% to 32%.
The contest is fluid. In addition to the many undecided voters, just 39% of New York City Democrats say they strongly support their choice of candidate. 36% are somewhat behind their selection while 22% say they might vote differently. Two percent are unsure.
Spitzer’s supporters are more fervent in their support than are Stringer’s backers. 47% of those for Spitzer say they are strongly committed to their choice. This compares with 30% of Stringer’s supporters who say they will not waver in their commitment.
Among Democrats who are likely to vote in September’s primary for comptroller, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, Spitzer has the backing of 44% compared with 36% for Stringer. One percent is behind another candidate, and 19% are undecided.
More View Spitzer Favorably than Stringer, But…
When it comes to Democrats’ impressions of the candidates, a plurality — 46% — has a positive opinion of Spitzer. 35% have an unfavorable view of him, and 19% are unsure. When Marist last reported this question in August 2010, two years after his resignation, New York City Democrats’ view of Spitzer was upside down. 45% of Democrats had an unfavorable impression of Spitzer. 38% thought favorably of him while 17% had either never heard of him or were unsure how to rate him.
Although Spitzer has a higher favorable rating than Stringer, Spitzer’s unfavorable rating is double that of Stringer. Among New York City Democrats, 40% view Stringer favorably while 17% have a lesser impression of the candidate. A notable 43% have either never heard of Stringer or are unsure how to rate him.
Many Dems Green Light Spitzer for a Second Go Around… 57% with Great Expectations for Comptroller Spitzer
Five years after Spitzer resigned amid revelations that he solicited prostitutes, about two-thirds of Democrats — 67% — believe Spitzer should be given a second chance in the political arena. Only 25% think Spitzer does not have the character to be the city’s next comptroller. Eight percent are unsure.
A plurality of New York City Democrats believe Eliot Spitzer has reformed. More than four in ten — 44% — say the former governor has changed as a person. 25% report he is the same Spitzer, and 32% are unsure.
On his merits, nearly six in ten Democrats — 57% — think Spitzer would do well as comptroller. Included here are 18% who think he would be excellent in the role and 39% who say he would do a good job as comptroller. 19% report he would perform fairly well in the post while 12% think he would fall short. 12% are unsure.
In the Big Picture, Does It Really Matter?
34% of Democrats think Spitzer’s scandal-plagued past will impact their vote for comptroller a great deal — 20% — or a good amount — 14%. 27% say it will matter only a little to their decision while 35% report it does not matter at all. Five percent are unsure.
Are Democrats focusing on the comptroller’s race? About two-thirds of Democrats — 65% — are not following the campaign intently. Included here are 44% who say they are not following it very closely and 21% who report they are not following the contest at all. Just 9% are tracking the comptroller’s race very closely while 26% are watching it closely.
The Lesser of Two Scandals?
When asked to weigh Spitzer’s previous salacious actions against those of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, there is little consensus about whose actions are considered to be more offensive. 31% consider Weiner sending lewd pictures of himself over the Internet to be more egregious while 29% think Spitzer’s involvement in a prostitution ring is more offensive. 19% report both are just as wrong while 13% believe neither politician’s actions are offensive. Nine percent are unsure.
Comptroller Spitzer Trumps Mayor Weiner
When asked whether New York City Democrats would prefer a Comptroller Spitzer or a Mayor Weiner, 38% say they would rather have a Comptroller Spitzer in office. 22% would prefer a Mayor Weiner while 15% would rather have neither. Eight percent would like both to be elected to their offices of choice. 17% are unsure.
Do Politicians Have a Skeleton in Their Closet?
Nearly three in four New York City Democrats — 72% — believe politicians have something to hide. This includes 40% of Democrats citywide who think all people who run for public office have a secret to hide and 32% who believe most politicians are keeping something under wraps. 20% report a few have something they want to keep secret, and only 3% think those who seek public office have nothing to hide. Five percent are unsure.
Bloomberg Approval Rating
46% of registered voters in New York City approve of the job Mayor Michael Bloomberg is doing in office. This includes 13% who believe the mayor is doing an excellent job and 33% who think he is doing a good one. 28% rate his performance as fair while 21% give Bloomberg poor grades. Five percent are unsure.
When the NBC New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll reported this question last month, 49% of voters praised Bloomberg’s performance. 31% believed he was doing an average job while 17% said his performance was subpar. Three percent, at the time, were unsure.
Direction of the City: Stay the Course, Says Majority
51% of registered voters in New York City believe the city is moving in the right direction. 35% think it is traveling on the wrong course, and 14% are unsure.
Last month, 52% of voters believed New York City was moving in the right direction while 37% reported it required a new trajectory. 11% were unsure.