Feature

He's back: Anthony Weiner leads in NYC mayoral race

Two years after the Twitter-flirting congressman resigned in disgrace, voters seem ready to give him a second chance

Anthony Weiner is back on top.

The bombastic congressman turned outcast philanderer turned New York City mayoral candidate is the top choice among registered voters in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of the city's upcoming Democratic primary.

In the poll, 25 percent of registered Democrats picked Weiner as their top choice, versus 20 percent who chose City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. It was the first time a poll found Weiner leading the race, and it marked the lowest showing Quinn has posted in any NBC/WSJ survey this year.

Quinn, who started off the race comfortably in front of a crowded primary field, has seen her support steadily slip since Weiner joined the race. As recently as February, a poll showed Quinn well out in front with 37 percent of the vote.

Weiner still trailed Quinn in a theoretical runoff scenario, 44 percent to 42 percent. However, that was much closer than last month, when a survey found Quinn ahead 48 percent to 33 percent in a head-to-head matchup.

Under New York State law, if no candidate in a citywide primary gets 40 percent of the vote, there is an automatic runoff between the top two candidates.

"Things are changing — the race has been scrambled by Weiner's candidacy," Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll, told the Journal. "Weiner's candidacy has gotten more acceptable to voters since he announced, [and] Quinn's having a difficult time reversing what has been a slow but steady decline in her numbers."

After months of teasing and a lengthy PR blitz, Weiner formally announced his candidacy in late May. His bid at political redemption comes two years after a sexting scandal and the endless, pun-laden media frenzy it spawned forced him to resign and end his once-promising career in Washington.

As the New York Times' Micah Cohen noted this month, early frontrunners in New York's Democratic primaries have a "near perfect" track record of ultimately winning the party's nomination. The Democratic primary is scheduled for September 10.

The poll was conducted June 17-21 among 689 registered Democratic voters. It has a margin of error of four percentage points.

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