8/16: Tight Race in Democratic Primary for NYC Mayor… Spitzer with Double-Digit Lead over Stringer in Comptroller’s Race
With less than a month to go until Primary Day, Democrats Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio are locked in a tight race in their pursuit of the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor. Bill Thompson is currently in third. Among registered Democrats in New York City, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, just eight percentage points separate these three candidates, and only six percentage points are between them among Democrats likely to vote on Primary Day. The scandal-ridden Anthony Weiner trails in fourth place.
- 24% Christine Quinn
- 21% Bill de Blasio
- 16% Bill Thompson
- 12% Anthony Weiner
- 6% John Liu
- 2% Erick Salgado
- 1% Sal Albanese
- 1% Randy Credico
- <1% Neil Grimaldi
- 3% Other
- 15% Undecided
POLL MUST BE SOURCED: NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll
“It’s been a topsy-turvy summer, and many Democratic voters are still waiting to be convinced,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Although voters have yet to sort things out, Bill de Blasio has shown the biggest gain in the last couple of weeks.”
It was a very different contest just three weeks ago when the NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll last reported this question on July 25th. At that time, Quinn — 25% — outpaced Weiner — 16% — by nine percentage points among New York City Democrats, including those who were undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. De Blasio and Thompson each received the support of 14% of the Democratic electorate. At that time, 7% backed John Liu while Erick Salgado had 2%. One percent supported Sal Albanese, 2% were for another candidate, and 19% were undecided.
Where Are Top-Tier Candidates’ Strengths?
- Quinn does better among Democrats who are both white and liberal — 33%, live in Manhattan — 30%, or who approve of the job Mayor Michael Bloomberg is doing in office — 29%. She also does well among Democrats who are Catholic — 28% or Latino — 27%.
- De Blasio does well among Democrats who are both white and liberal — 36%, who are Jewish — 30%, who live in Manhattan — 27%, or who earn $50,000 or more annually — 27%. De Blasio has improved his standing among Democrats who are African American. He currently receives the support of 20% of African American Democrats compared with 10% in the last poll.
- Thompson does better among Democrats who are African American — 22%, but generally receives similar support from most other groups.
Among Democrats who are likely to vote in September’s primary, de Blasio and Quinn each receive 24%. 18% back Thompson. Weiner has the support of 11% of Democrats who are likely to cast a ballot while 5% are behind Liu. Two percent are for Salgado, and 1% backs Albanese. Credico has the support of 1%, and Grimaldi receives less than one percent. Two percent are behind another candidate, and 12% are undecided.
When it comes to intensity of support, a plurality of New York City registered Democrats with a candidate preference — 43% — say they strongly support their choice of candidate. 37% are somewhat committed to their pick while 17% might vote differently. Three percent are unsure.
In NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist’s previous survey, 42% said they were firmly committed to their candidate. 32% were somewhat behind their choice while 23% thought they might change their mind before casting their ballot. Three percent, at the time, were unsure.
48% of de Blasio’s supporters say they will not waiver in their commitment to him. This compares with 41% of New York City Democrats who rally for Thompson and 35% of those who are for Quinn.
Lhota Leads Catsimatidis for GOP Nod
Looking at the contest for the Republican nomination for mayor, Joe Lhota continues to have the advantage over John Catsimatidis. George McDonald trails his GOP opponents by double-digits. However, three in ten Republicans in New York City have yet to select a candidate. It’s important to keep in mind the small number of registered Republicans in this survey.
Among registered Republicans in New York City including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, if the Republican primary were held today, here is how the contest would stand:
- 33% Joe Lhota
- 22% John Catsimatidis
- 12% George McDonald
- 2% Other
- 30% Undecided
When NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist last reported this question in June, Lhota — 28% — led Catsimatidis — 21% — by 7 percentage points among New York City Republicans, including those who were undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. 10% backed George McDonald, and 1% were for another candidate. 40% were undecided.
How strongly committed are Republicans to their choice of candidate? 43% of those with a candidate preference are strongly committed to their choice. 34% are somewhat behind their pick while 17% might change their mind. Six percent are unsure.
No Runaway in Runoff Races… But de Blasio has Edge
If none of the candidates receive 40% of the vote in the Democratic primary for mayor, a runoff for the Democratic nomination will be held. How would the top-tier candidates fare in such a situation?
Among New York City Democrats:
- When de Blasio and Quinn face off, de Blasio receives the support of 44% of registered Democrats compared with 42% for Quinn. 14% are undecided. In NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist’s June poll, Quinn — 47% — outpaced de Blasio — 33% — by 14 percentage points. 21% were undecided. Among likely Democratic voters, 47% are currently for de Blasio compared with 40% for Quinn. 12% are undecided.
- Thompson — 44% — and Quinn — 43% — are also neck and neck among registered Democrats. 12% are undecided. When NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist last reported this question nearly two months ago, Quinn received the support of 42% of Democrats compared with 40% for Thompson. 18%, at the time, were undecided. Looking at likely Democratic voters this time, Thompson garners 47% to 42% for Quinn. 11% are undecided.
- De Blasio receives 44% compared with 36% for Thompson in a runoff among registered Democrats. 20% are undecided. Among likely Democratic voters in this survey, 47% are for de Blasio while 36% back Thompson. 16% are undecided.
Boost for de Blasio… Weiner’s Favorability at New Low
A majority of registered Democrats citywide view the top-tier Democratic candidates running for mayor positively. This includes de Blasio who enjoys a bump in his positive rating. Anthony Weiner’s favorability rating has sunk to an all-time low.
- Nearly six in ten New York City Democrats — 59% — have a positive impression of de Blasio while 14% have an unfavorable view of the candidate. 26% have either never heard of him or are unsure how to rate him. When NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist last reported this question in June, 52% thought highly of de Blasio. 19% had an unfavorable opinion of him, and 29% had either never heard of him or were unsure how to rate him.
- 56% of registererd Democrats have a favorable view of Thompson. 18% have an unfavorable impression of him, and 26% have either never heard of him or are unsure how to rate him. In June, 60% had a positive opinion of Thompson, and 16% had an unfavorable impression of him. 25%, at the time, had either never heard of him or were unsure how to rate him.
- A majority of registered Democrats — 54% — has a favorable impression of Quinn. 32% have an unfavorable opinion of her while 13% have either never heard of her or are unsure how to rate her. In June, 57% thought well of Quinn, 29% had an unfavorable impression of her, and 14% had either never heard of her or were unsure how to rate her.
- When it comes to Weiner, 63% of registered Democrats citywide have an unfavorable opinion of him. 26% think well of him while 11% have either never heard of him or are unsure how to rate him. When NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist last reported this question on July 25th, 55% had an unfavorable opinion of Weiner. 30% had a positive impression of the candidate, and 15% had either never heard of him or were unsure how to rate him.
Spitzer with Double-Digit Lead over Stringer in Comptroller’s Race
In the Democratic primary for New York City comptroller, Eliot Spitzer receives majority support — 53% — among New York City registered Democrats including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. This compares with 34% for Scott Stringer. One percent is for another candidate, and 11% are undecided.
When NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist last reported this question on July 25th, 49% backed Spitzer, and 32% were for Stringer. Two percent backed another candidate, and 17% were undecided.
Among Democrats who are likely to vote in September’s primary, 54% are behind Spitzer while 36% are for Stringer. One percent backs another candidate, and 9% are undecided. Last time, Spitzer — 48% — led Stringer — 36% — by 12 percentage points among Democrats likely to vote on Primary Day.
48% of New York City registered Democrats with a candidate preference for comptroller strongly support their choice. 37% are somewhat committed to their candidate while 14% might vote differently. Two percent are unsure.
More registered Democrats today are strongly committed to their candidate selection for comptroller. When this question was last reported on July 11th, 39% of Democrats with a candidate preference said they were firmly committed to their choice, and 36% reported they were somewhat behind their pick. 22% thought they might vote differently, and 2% were unsure.
A majority of Spitzer’s supporters — 51% — say they are firmly committed to their candidate. This compares with 43% of Stringer’s backers who say the same. There has been a notable increase in the proportion of Democrats who strongly support Stringer. In early July, 30% of Stringer’s supporters were firmly committed to him. This compares with 47% of those who firmly backed Spitzer at that time.
Majority of Democrats Are Undecided in Public Advocate Race
In the contest for the Democratic nomination for New York City’s public advocate, 51% of registered Democrats are undecided about which candidate to support.
Among registered Democrats in New York City, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, if the Democratic primary for public advocate were held today, here is how the contest would stand:
- 16% Letitia James
- 12% Catherine Guerriero
- 9% Daniel Squadron
- 3% Reshma Saujani
- 2% Sidique Wai
- 7% Other
- 51% Undecided
When NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist last reported this question in its June 26th poll, James received the support of 17% of New York City registered Democrats, including those who were undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. 16% supported Guerriero. Eight percent backed Squadron, and 4% were for Saujani. Less than one percent supported another candidate, and 54% were undecided.
Among Democrats who are likely to vote in September’s primary, 16% support James. Guerriero and Squadron each receives the backing of 12%. Saujani has 3%, and 2% are for Wai. Six percent want to elect another candidate, and 49% are undecided.
Among registered Democrats with a candidate preference for public advocate, 38% are strongly committed to their candidate. 34% somewhat back their choice while 25% might vote differently. Two percent are unsure.
In June, 34% strongly supported their candidate. 43% were somewhat behind their choice for public advocate while 20% reported they might change their mind. Two percent, at the time, were unsure.
Bloomberg Approval Rating Steady
44% of registered voters in New York City approve of the job Mayor Michael Bloomberg is doing in office. This includes 11% who say he is doing an excellent job and 33% who think he is doing a good one. 31% rate his performance as fair while 21% report he is doing poorly in office. Five percent are unsure.
When NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist last reported this question on July 11th, similar proportions held these views. 46% said Bloomberg was doing either an excellent or good job as mayor. 28% gave him fair grades while 21% believed his performance fell short. Five percent, at the time, were unsure.
A City on Track?
46% of registered voters in the Big Apple believe New York City is moving in the right direction. 40% think it is traveling in the wrong direction, and 14% are unsure. This is the first time since September 2011 that the proportion of voters citywide who think the city is on the right course has fallen below 50%. At that time, 42% said the city was on track, 52% reported it was off course, and 6% were unsure.
When NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist last reported this question in July, a slim majority of voters — 51% — said the city was moving in the right direction. 35% believed it needed a new course, and 14% were unsure.
Looking ahead to the 2013 Democratic primary for mayor, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has the support of 23% of Democrats citywide. Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson follows with 15%. Nine percent of registered Democrats citywide are for current Comptroller John Liu while 8% support Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Six percent back Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer while the publisher of Manhattan Media, Tom Allon, receives 2%. Nearly four in ten registered Democrats in New York City — 37% — are unsure.
“There’s still a long way to go before Democrats go to the polls,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Nearly four in ten Democrats in the city are undecided.”
When compared with NY1-Marist’s April survey, more Democrats in the city are unsure about whom to support in the contest. At that time, more than three in ten New York City Democrats — 32% — favored Quinn. 12% supported Thompson, and 10% were for de Blasio. Liu received the backing of 9% while Stringer garnered 7%. Only 1% of Democrats were behind Allon, and 29% were unsure.
Plurality Says, “No Go” for Kelly Mayoralty
46% of registered voters in New York City do not want Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to run for mayor. 35% support a Kelly candidacy. 19% are unsure.
In NY1-Marist’s July 2011 survey, voters divided. 42% believed Kelly should stay out of the race while the same proportion — 42% — wanted him to throw his hat into the ring. 16%, at that time, were unsure.
Other well-known names have been bandied about as possible mayoralty candidates. How do they fare? 58% of registered voters citywide do not want Anthony Weiner to run for mayor while one in four — 25% — does. 17% are unsure.
There has been little change on this question since NY1-Marist last reported it in July of 2011. At that time, 64% of voters citywide did not want Weiner to seek the office while 26% did. One in ten, at that time, was unsure.
When it comes to Eliot Spitzer, 57% of registered voters want him to stay out of the contest while 30% would like to see him enter it. 13% are unsure. Here, too, there is little difference from the last time this question was asked in July of 2011. At that time, the same proportion — 57% — reported Spitzer should not run for mayor while 33% thought he should. Nine percent, then, were unsure.
What about actor Alec Baldwin? 66% of registered voters say they don’t want the actor to turn politician. 18%, though, would like to see Baldwin enter the contest. 16% are unsure.
Bloomberg Approval Rating Steady
45% of registered voters in New York City approve of the job Mayor Michael Bloomberg is doing in office. This includes 10% who say he is doing an excellent job and 35% who report he is doing a good one. 32% report his performance is fair while 20% call it poor. Only three percent are unsure.
When NY1-Marist last reported this question in April, 44% of registered voters gave Bloomberg high marks. Included here were 12% who said he was doing an excellent job and 32% who believed he was doing a good one. 33% gave the mayor average grades while 22% thought his performance was subpar. Only 1%, then, was unsure.
How will Mayor Bloomberg be remembered after he leaves office? 43% of registered voters believe he will leave a positive legacy. This includes 12% who think he will be remembered as one of the city’s best mayors and 31% who say he will be considered an above average mayor. 34% think Bloomberg will be thought of as an average mayor while 12% report he will be remembered as a below average one. Eight percent have low expectations and say Bloomberg will be considered one of the city’s worst mayors.
Little has changed on this question since April. At that time, 39% thought Bloomberg would leave a positive legacy behind. 39% said he would be considered an average mayor while 13% believed he would be looked upon as a subpar mayor. Nine percent, at that time, reported Bloomberg would be thought of as one of New York City’s worst mayors.
Majority Remains Optimistic about the Direction of the City
51% of registered voters citywide say the Big Apple is moving in the right direction. 38%, however, believe it is moving in the wrong one. 10% are unsure.
Here, too, the findings are similar to the NY1-Marist April survey when 52% thought New York City was on the right course. More than four in ten voters — 42% — said it was on the wrong one, and 6% were unsure.
According to this NY1-Marist Poll, if the 2013 Democratic primary for mayor in New York City were held today, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn would receive 20% of the vote while 16% would cast their ballot for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson is within striking distance with the support of 12% of Democrats. In this hypothetical contest, 10% are behind current Comptroller John Liu, 7% back Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer takes 6% of the vote. Publisher Tom Allon garners just 2%, and one in four Democrats — 25% — are undecided.
“With twenty-five percent of Democrats undecided and the field lacking a dominant top tier of candidates, this is a campaign story still to be told,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Those looking to succeed Mayor Bloomberg might welcome his support. But, if the numbers hold, don’t expect anyone to make his endorsement the centerpiece of their campaign.”
In NY1-Marist’s July survey, 16% of Democratic voters supported Quinn, 15% backed Thompson, and 14% were for Markowitz. Nine percent, at the time, were behind Liu, 7% said they would vote for de Blasio, and 6% thought they would cast their ballot for Stringer. Only 1% backed Allon, and 32% were undecided.
If Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz decides not to run for the office, Quinn and Thompson are neck and neck. Without Markowitz, 22% of Democrats are for Quinn followed closely by Thompson with 18%. John Liu receives 12%, Bill de Blasio nets 10%, and Scott Stringer garners 7% of the vote. Two percent back Tom Allon, and 28% are undecided.
What kind of influence could an endorsement by Mayor Michael Bloomberg have on a mayoral candidate? Nearly half of registered voters in New York City consider it the kiss of death. 48% report an endorsement by Bloomberg would make them less likely to vote for a candidate, 30% think it would make them more likely to vote for one, and 15% say it makes no difference to their vote. Only 8% are unsure.
Nearly half of Democratic voters citywide — 47% — report an endorsement by Bloomberg would make them less likely to vote for a candidate. 29% say it would make them more likely to support a candidate, and 17% think it would not make a difference. Six percent are unsure.
In the aftermath of former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s sex scandal about one-third of New York City’s Democrats, 32%, are undecided about whom to support in the Democratic primary for mayor in 2013. The leading contenders are City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with 16%, New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson with 15%, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz with 14%. They are followed by New York City Comptroller John Liu who receives 9%, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio who has the support of 7%, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer who garners 6%, and Publisher Tom Allon who is backed by 1% of Democrats citywide.
“With Weiner out of the picture, there are twice as many undecided voters than voters who support any one of the current contenders,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “That makes for a very fluid contest.”
When NY1-Marist last reported this question in April, now former Congressman Anthony Weiner received the backing of 18% of Democrats in New York City. Thompson took 15% while Liu and Quinn each received 13% of the Democratic vote citywide. At that time, 9% of Democrats reported they were pulling for de Blasio while 4% backed Stringer. 27%, then, were undecided. Markowitz was not included in the previous survey.
Voters Want Weiner, Spitzer Out of 2013 Mayoralty
Citywide few voters, including those within their own party, want the sex scandal plagued pols, former Congressman Anthony Weiner or former Governor Eliot Spitzer, to seek the New York City mayoralty in 2013. Only 26% would like to see Weiner in the race and just 33% would want Spitzer to enter the contest.
New York City Voters Divide Over Top Cop Candidacy
How do New York City voters feel about Police Commissioner Ray Kelly becoming “Candidate Kelly?” The electorate divides. Citywide, 42%, would like to see Kelly run for mayor and 42% say he should stay out of the race. 16% are unsure.
Among Democrats, 41% would like Kelly to toss his proverbial hat into the ring. This compares with 54% of Republicans and 35% of non-enrolled voters who say the same.
The pool of potential 2013 Democratic mayoral candidates is wide, but does anyone stand out in the minds of voters? Not yet. According to this NY1-Marist Poll, 18% of Democratic voters citywide say, if the primary were held today, they would support Congressman Anthony Weiner. Former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson takes 15%. Comptroller John Liu receives 13% of the Democratic vote as does City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Nine percent of Democrats say they would support Public Advocate Bill de Blasio while 4% would back Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. A notable 27% are undecided.
There has been little movement on this question since Marist last reported it in October. At that time, 21% supported Weiner, 16% backed Thompson, and 10% threw their support behind Liu. Quinn and de Blasio received the support of 9% and 8%, respectively, while 4% supported Stringer at the time. 32% were undecided.
“With no clear front-runner and a large number of undecided voters, this contest is likely to attract a crowd of candidates,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. ”This is not unusual for an ‘open’ seat.”
Just Don’t Do It, Spitz!
There’s one possible candidate who many voters definitely don’t want to see throw his hat into the 2013 mayoralty ring. 62% of registered voters in New York City say they would prefer former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer not run for mayor. 29%, however, say he should. 10% are unsure.
When Marist last asked this question in October, similar proportions of voters held these views. 62% of voters did not want Spitzer to make a bid for mayor while 24% did. 14%, at the time, were unsure.
Spitzer can’t even gain traction in his own party. More than six in ten Democratic voters — 62% — do not want him to seek the mayoralty while 29% do. Nine percent are unsure. In Marist’s previous survey, similar proportions of Democrats citywide held these views.
Three years is a lifetime in politics, but if the 2013 Democratic primary for mayor were held today, 18% of registered Democrats would support Congressman Anthony Weiner. Former Comptroller Bill Thompson follows closely behind with 15% of the vote. And, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn receives the support of 12%. 10% of the city’s Democrats report they would back Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Comptroller John Liu each garners 9% of the vote. More than a quarter of New York City Democrats — 27% — are undecided.
“There are plenty of potential candidates for 2013, but no clear front-runner,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “With a long way to go, it’s not surprising that ‘undecided’ best reflects the outlook of Democratic voters at this time.”
The Kelly Question
What if New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly decided to run as the Republican candidate for mayor? How would he fare against the Democrats’ top contenders?
When pitted against Congressman Anthony Weiner, Weiner receives a majority of registered voters in New York City — 52% — to Kelly’s 33%. 15% are unsure.
New York’s top cop does better when matched up against City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former Comptroller Bill Thompson. In the hypothetical contest against Quinn, she receives 45% of the vote to Kelly’s 37%. 18% are undecided.
And, Kelly receives a similar proportion of the vote when he and Thompson face off. Here, 45% of voters citywide say they would support Thompson while 36% would back Kelly. 19% are unsure.
What happened in the race for New York City mayor?! Mayor Michael Bloomberg squeaked out a slim victory over Democratic challenger Bill Thompson last night despite the healthy lead given to Bloomberg by all the pre-election polls. The short of it … the scenario is a textbook case of pre-election poll analysis.
It is not unusual in contests between a well-known incumbent (Bloomberg) and a relatively unknown challenger (Thompson) that the incumbent ends up getting pretty much the same number he was attracting in pre-election polls. Undecided voters tend to find the challenger or not vote at all, having already rejected the incumbent.
In the closing weeks of the campaign, all public pre-election polls had Bloomberg in the low 50s, regardless of the margin over Thompson. This is reminiscent of the outcome in 1994 when pre-election polls showed then three-term incumbent Mario Cuomo with a huge lead over relatively unknown challenger George Pataki in the New York State race for governor. The bad news for Cuomo was that he was below 50% despite his big “lead.”
It is not surprising, therefore, that the 2009 race for mayor got closer in the end. The Marist polls showed the trend that Democratic voters were “coming home” to Thompson. These polls revealed growing support for Bill Thompson among Democrats (more than two-thirds of the New York City electorate) and African-American voters (about one-quarter of the electorate). This trend continued through Marist’s final look at the electorate on Sunday and on election eve in a mixed, data collection mode research project. Thankfully, the election of President Barack Obama last year put to rest the unsubstantiated but popular view that African-American candidates are undercounted in pre-election polls in black/white contests … the so-called, “Bradley Effect.”
Having said this, it was a rough night for incumbents, and change is still in the air. Tuesday’s electorate was motivated by economic concerns and laid the blame on the doorstep of government executives. From a three-term county executive in a local New York county to New Jersey’s Governor Corzine (even with the White House’s best efforts), voters rejected the status quo. Bloomberg narrowly escaped.
The race for New York City mayor is in the homestretch, and if today were Election Day, Mayor Michael Bloomberg would handily win a third term. Bloomberg currently leads Democratic challenger Bill Thompson — 53% to 38% — among likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. Bloomberg’s lead among likely voters is consistent with the results of a Marist survey last week when Bloomberg received 52% to Thompson’s 36%.
Looking at political party, 45% of likely Democratic voters report they will back Bloomberg on Tuesday while 47% say they will support Thompson. On the Republican side, 74% of likely GOP voters are behind Bloomberg compared with 17% for Thompson. 60% of non-enrolled voters back Bloomberg, and 27% say they will cast their ballot for Thompson.
Among registered voters citywide, Bloomberg leads Thompson, 48% to 37%, a difference of 11 percentage points. Last week, Bloomberg garnered 47% of registered voters’ support while Thompson received 38%, a gap of 9 percentage points.
Table: 2009 Race for Mayor in New York City — Likely Voters Including Leaners
Table: 2009 Race for Mayor in New York City — Registered Voters
Click Here for Complete October 30, 2009 NYC Poll Release and Tables
Three-Quarters of Likely Voters Strongly Committed to Candidate
75% of likely voters citywide say they will not waver when it comes to their choice of candidate. An additional 20% report, regardless of whom they are planning to support, they are somewhat committed to their pick, and just 4% say they might change their minds before Tuesday.
The proportion of likely voters who strongly back their choice of candidate has grown since Marist last asked voters about their intensity of support. Last week, 65% said they will definitely not change their vote come Election Day. At that time, 26% were somewhat behind their candidate, and 8% reported they might change their vote.
Both Bloomberg and Thompson currently enjoy firm backing from their respective supporters. 77% of Bloomberg’s supporters and 73% of Thompson’s backers say they are firmly committed to their candidate. Last week, those proportions were 71% for Bloomberg and 57% for Thompson.
A Tale of Two Candidates’ Favorability Ratings
Mayor Bloomberg’s favorability rating is on solid ground. 61% of registered voters say they have a positive view of the mayor while 32% of voters report they have an unflattering opinion of the mayor. These proportions are little changed from Marist’s previous poll when 63% rated the mayor favorably and 33% had a negative perception of him.
Bill Thompson’s favorability ratings have also not changed significantly since last week. 44% of voters maintain a positive impression of the comptroller, and 31% hold him in a negative light. 25% say they are either unsure how to rate him or have never heard of him. Last time, 47% viewed Thompson favorably, 33% held a negative impression of him, and 20% were unsure how to rate him.
Voters Care About Term Limits, But Does It Make a Difference?
Mayor Bloomberg’s action to extend term limits from two to three terms is not a deciding factor for 45% of voters. Although a large proportion of voters — 43% — says it makes them less likely to vote for the mayor, this number has not grown through the course of the campaign. 9% report his action will make them more likely to vote for him.
A majority of New York City registered voters — 54% — think Mayor Michael Bloomberg is doing either an excellent or good job in office. 45%, on the other hand, say he is doing either a fair or poor job. The mayor’s job approval rating has inched down for the first time since February. When Marist asked about Bloomberg’s job performance last week, 58% gave him high marks.
Democrats are the difference in the mayor’s lower approval rating. 51% of Democrats now say he is doing either an excellent or good job in office. In Marist’s previous survey, 60% of Democrats held this view. Among New York City’s GOP, 69% of registered Republicans think Bloomberg is doing an above average job as mayor. He received the same rating when Marist asked this question last week. When it comes to non-enrolled voters citywide, 55% approve of Mayor Bloomberg’s job performance. Last week, half of non-enrolled voters approved of his job performance.
Voters also believe the city is on the right path. 56% say the city is moving in the right direction while 34% report it’s travelling along the wrong course. Similar proportions of the electorate held these views last week.
Tomorrow night’s debate on WABC-TV between NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Democrat Bill Thompson represents the challenger’s best and probably last opportunity to close the gap in the race for mayor. I’m not sure Thompson’s chances are as dire as a Hail Mary pass but they are certainly no better than trying a 50 yard field goal into a strong wind.
The latest Marist Poll numbers put Bloomberg ahead of Thompson by 16% among likely voters. The gap has widened since last month when Marist had the contest at 9% in Bloomberg’s favor. Although undecided voters typically gravitate to the challenger in these kinds of matchups, that doesn’t appear to be happening this time around.
Several reasons. First, the Bloomberg campaign has been on the attack. Although Bloomberg’s approval rating is nearly 60%, the mayor is garnering only in the neighborhood of the low fifties in the tossup. The focus of the Bloomberg campaign is to make sure undecided voters don’t find the challenger in the closing days of the campaign. So far so good for the mayor. Not only has his lead widened but Thompson’s negatives have grown from 22% to 33% in a month.
The money factor also plays Bloomberg’s way. No shock here, but this mayoral campaign is different from previous ones. There are fewer journalists providing less free media … something an underfinanced Thompson campaign needs. The premium has been on paid media and that favors Bloomberg and contributes to the problems Thompson has faced in getting any traction.
Third, the Thompson campaign has repeatedly relied on a single sheet in its playbook – namely, Bloomberg’s reversal on term limits. New Yorkers aren’t happy with this change in the rules, but it alone is not a winning issue for Thompson. Campaigns are about telling voters something they don’t already know. Rick Lazio fell victim to a similar failed strategy in 2000 when he harped on Hillary Clinton’s carpetbagger status. Thompson needs to get beyond this issue if he has any hopes of scoring an upset.
That brings us back to the candidates’ final debate. Mayor Bloomberg no doubt will continue his strategy of disengagement. He certainly is not the most gifted debater to stand behind a podium and he has no need to mix it up with Thompson. Instead, Bloomberg is likely to counterpunch when attacked and point to the future every chance he gets. Isn’t that what campaigns are about?
On Thompson’s side of the equation, he was surprisingly feisty during the NY1 debate but now needs to establish his rationale for running. What will he do as mayor? This is not Obama vs. McCain. The currents of change are not strong enough to carry Thompson into office.
There are several other elements that are unique to NYC campaign ’09. Baseball has been in the air and has distracted voters from what has generally been a ho-hum contest. 79% of the city’s electorate, including 62% of Thompson backers, think Mayor Bloomberg is a shoo-in.
Issues concerning New Yorkers right now are more national and international in scope … the economy, the war, health care etc. There hasn’t been a local issue to mobilize voters save the already discussed extension of term limits.
And, there is for campaign 2009 a letdown from this time last year when candidate Obama was moving New Yorkers to follow that campaign in unprecedented ways. Turnout is likely to be low, and that may also play Bloomberg’s way with his GOTV effort ready to launch.
Finally, this is a somewhat charisma-challenged contest. New York City voters historically have rotated mayors between the bigger than life grandstand type to the image of a competent manager mayor. From Broadway Bound John Lindsay to Comptroller Abe Beame to “How Am I Doing” Ed Koch to David Dinkins to Rudy Giuliani to Michael Bloomberg. If history is any guide, the mayor to follow Bloomberg should be a slam dunk candidate.
Thompson has failed to demonstrate that capacity so far and must now do so. We’ll be taking a final pre-election sample of New Yorkers following the debate to see if they are thinking any differently.