Anthony Weiner’s sudden parachute drop into the middle of the New York City mayoral race was certain to make waves on the Democratic side of the election. But mere days after Weiner announced his candidacy for mayor, the latest numbers are in for his comeback tour and they are quite good, actually.
The latest development in former Congressman Weiner’s return to politics is a very good poll result from a Marist poll, finding him within striking distance of the current frontrunner, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. This is good news for the Weiner campaign and is a reminder of something many don't realize about the former congressman — his pure talent the basic skills of campaigning.
The Marist poll was the first poll taken after Weiner formally announced in a campaign video posted on YouTube earlier in May. It found that Weiner had placed in second with 19%. Quinn got 24% of the vote, her worst showing in the race so far. In a distant third and fourth place are Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, with 12% and 11% respectively.
The five-point gap is much better than the last poll Marist took in April about the race. In that poll, Weiner placed in second with 15% and Quinn received 26% of the vote, a nine-point gap.
Other fascinating trends emerge when you compare the shift in other data points over time. Back in April Weiner had a 45% favorable impression among Democratic voters and a 41% unfavorable rating. 15% had no opinion or had never heard of him.
This May poll had his favorability rating drop one point to 44% of voters. Interestingly enough his unfavorables rose to 44% as well. The number of undecided voters fell to 12%.
A bad favorable/unfavorable rating is hardly the worst thing in the world if you have the political chops to plan around it (just ask newly elected Congressman Mark Sanford). Sanford won by running a very good campaign and pressing the flesh, getting himself out there to voters so the miasma of his previous transgressions would be forgiven.
Weiner is attempting to emulate that model. This piece in Buzzfeed is an excellent view on how Weiner is going back what he loves, personal politics.
"When Weiner finally arrives, the parking lot comes alive. A flock of reporters circle round, and seemingly on cue, band members start practicing their drumrolls, as the crowd outside Duane Reade thickens."
The article goes on to note, "He is in high spirits — never mind Love’s comments and others that come throughout the day; never mind the press scrutiny, which he appears to relish, or the reporters camped unfailingly outside his Park Avenue apartment; never mind that none of his former colleagues or friends in politics, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, haven’t so much as offered a word of support for his campaign; never mind that you’d be hard-pressed to get a single member of New York’s smart set to say he can win."
And this, ultimately, is the reason why 53% of voters in New York City think Weiner deserves a second chance. That number jumps to 59% among Democrats.
You have to remember the before his Twitter scandal, Weiner was a very popular six-term Congressman. Though many across the country had never heard of Weiner before the Twitter scandal and instantly dismissed him as a political joke in its aftermath, Weiner will be competing among those voters who have a memory of him beyond the single media cycle. Weiner has to campaign among those people, show them that he truly deserves the second that he has been given. And there are few in the race who campaign better then Weiner.
Weiner has a nearly $5 million dollar war chest as well, catapulting him to second in the critical money race. He may be a long shot, but he is far from hopeless in this race.
Of course a lot can still go wrong. He could fail to transform his current sticks-and-tape campaign into a well-oiled machine. He could fail to gain traction beyond his initial splash. But to just write him off as just a joke due to one scandal is to underestimate what got him elected in the first place.