Two polls released this week by Quinnipiac University and NBC New York-Marist College show former Representative Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) as a distant second choice for New York Democrats were the primary to be held right now. With 15% of the vote, he lags behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's 26%, but more telling has the highest unfavorability ratings at 41% — among all the Democrat candidates.
This spells danger for the former congressman who stepped down from the House in 2011, surrounding the scandal involving him sending lewd images of himself to young college students. The New York Times' Nate Silver analyzed the poll results, cautioning Weiner's unfavorability and high name recognition so early on as obstacles for the candidate.
Other less familiar candidates have till the New York primary in September to develop name recognition and comfort with the public, whereas Weiner's battle till then will be to shed the negativity of his scandal. Despite his popularity during his time as congressman, and well-known ties to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Weiner will have to quickly shed his scandal image and start focusing on the issues for New York.
Weiner's unfavorability rating will be the key statistic to watch going forward, especially the combination of his name recognition and unfavorability translating that the people who know him dislike him most. Weiner is clearly aware of this double-whammy, and has launched his campaign by focusing on his humility post-scandal starting with the in-depth interview he and his wife, Huma Abedin, gave to the New York Times. Whether this is political savvy or genuine remorse remains to be interpreted by the public, but Weiner is aggressively working to rehabilitate his image:
Weiner could benefit from this underdog image on the other hand, playing on a different level than the other candidates until he's able to garner enough support, especially if his most loyal supporters manage to influence the undecideds in the race. Quinn will be using this time to solidify her lead, and her victory will be reliant upon the amount of donors she can rack up to give her enough of an edge in the months to the primary, especially since Weiner will be receiving the lion-share of press coverage. Aligning her issues and personality with as much of the Democrat constituency as soon as possible will result in an iron-clad lead in the weeks running up to the primary.
Regardless of the outcome, this will be a crucial election for Weiner, a situation he is clearly aware of — "I know it's now or never for me."