The latest poll out from the Quinnipiac Polling Institute out today had some good news for Christine Quinn: it showed that the Council Speaker had nearly three times the support of her rivals in the 2013 mayor’s race.
“Wow, that is getting up there,” said one local political consultant after being told about the poll (he had not seen it yet this morning.) “I am surprised by that number.”
The 29 percent who say they plan to vote for Ms. Quinn was a few ticks higher than the 26 percent she garnered in an earlier poll in May, and rivals Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Comptroller John Liu and former City Comptroller Bill Thompson remain bunched up in the race for second place, with each grabbing around ten percent. Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer holds steady at four percent.
The Politicker reached out to campaign consultants and aides to the four non-Quinn contenders to get a sense of how they were reading the latest poll. We granted them each anonymity, since they were not authorized by their bosses or their clients to speak publicly about the race.
But all agreed there were some nuggets of good news in there for them–mainly because fully a third of those polled said that they remain undecided, and that election remains over 13 months away.
“This is like any other New York City mayoral election where no one is really thinking about it yet. There is a celebrity candidate that has significantly more name recognition than a couple of the other folks–look at her wedding, the Jersey Shore profile. All of that is to Chris’ benefit,” said one.
Indeed, Ms. Quinn has received a host of good press recently, outside of the usual political channels: there was the big Elle Magazine profile from earlier in the year, a New Yorker profile from later in the year, and of course her wedding, which may be the society nuptials of the year.
And a number of the insiders pointed out that although Ms. Quinn’s overall numbers were pretty strong, some of the crosstabs showed signs of weakening for her. They note that her disapproval rating ticked up four percentage points from the May poll. And the poll showed that 28 percent of Latinos say they intend to vote for her, which her rivals think is unlikely if there is a minority candidate in the race.
“It’s laughable that her Latino vote could be that high,” said one.
Still another thought that the disapproval number wouldn’t be a negative in the end for her: “In a multi-candidate field, that won’t matter. She will just need to get her vote out.”
Others said that they were gratified that Ms. Quinn hadn’t yet begun to solidify her front-runner status, and noted that campaigning as the front-runner can make for a steeper climb.
There were a few other non-Quinn related nuggets the consultants were in close agreement on. All were surprised for example that City Comptroller John Liu’s poll numbers remained steady despite months of negative press and a federal investigation into his campaign fundraising.
“I think he is just constantly out there meeting with people,” said one.
Another surprise was that Mr. Thompson still remained essentially in a three-way tie for second place, and that in fact had slipped a couple of places. Mr. Thompson ran for mayor in 2009, narrowly losing to the heavily-favored Mike Bloomberg, and has won citywide twice. If early polls only judge name recognition, as many consultants and pollsters say, why is he struggling?
“The Billy thing is bad,” said one adviser to a rival campaign. “At the end of the day if he is able to raise a couple of million dollars he will be able to rally whatever Thompson base is out there, but the question for the Thompson campaign is does it make it harder for him to get to the next half a million dollars that he needs to communicate with hundreds of thousands of voters.”
“It shows that there was never a ‘I Love Thompson’ vote out there.  was a ‘I Hate Bloomberg’ vote for him.”
And since Mr. Thompson lacks elected office, he lacks the staff or resources to churn out reports and press releases to get into the conversation other ways.
Most though tried to spin the poll results as showing a race that is wide open. As stated above, fully a third of voters remain undecided, a figure that has remained unchanged from earlier polls. Political and union support is likely to stay on the sidelines for some time, the rival consultants said.
“It’s so early it’s meaningless,” said one aide. “The sense around here is that nothing has changed.”
“I don’t think a 29-10 or even a 29-4 number margin a year out is going to make somebody say ‘I got to jump on the Chris Quinn bandwagon tomorrow because Friday is too late,” said another. “The only people following this now are the people who follow you on Twitter.”
So when is too late?
“Next June,” the aide said.