Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has a 19-point lead over Democratic primary rival Scott Stringer in the New York City comptroller's race, according to a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University.
Spitzer leads Stringer, Manhattan's borough president, by 56 percent to 37 percent among likely Democratic voters in the Sept. 10 primary.
In recent weeks, Spitzer has been a frequent presence on the city's airwaves, releasing two new television ads that play up his populist credentials. He earlier ran two other ads. Stringer's campaign will go on air for the first time Thursday, with a commercial introducing himself to voters as a fighter for the middle class.
"Spitzer is all over the TV screens, building on his better name recognition and leaving Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in the dust," Maurice Carroll, Quinnipiac's polling director, said in a statement.
Democratic voters haven't forgotten the scandal that drove Spitzer out of the governor's office -- he resigned after admitting to paying for a prostitute -- and 57 percent said it's a legitimate issue in the election. But only 23 percent said his behavior should be a disqualifying factor.
Men and women were about equally likely to support Spitzer, with little gender gap on whether his past behavior should be disqualifying. But white voters were more likely than black voters to say Spitzer didn't deserve another chance. According to the poll, the former governor holds a 47-point lead over Stringer among black voters, while Stringer leads by 10 points among white voters.
Unlike New York's contentious mayoral race, the comptroller's race has mostly been decided in voters' minds: 70 percent of those who had chosen a candidate said they'd definitely vote for him on Election Day, while just 18 percent said they were likely to change their vote.
The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 579 likely New York Democratic voters by phone between Aug. 7 and Aug. 12.