POLITICS
09/03/2013 03:53 pm ET Updated Sep 03, 2013

HUFFPOLLSTER: Bill De Blasio Could Avoid A Runoff In NYC, Poll Shows

A new poll in New York shows the leading mayoral candidate could avoid a runoff. New polls confirm that Americans widely oppose airstrikes in Syria. And let's hope the Pentagon is better at keeping secrets than the pollsters at Quinnipiac. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, September 3, 2013.

DE BLASIO'S RISE CONTINUES - New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio increased his lead over his Democratic rivals and is now in a position to win next week's primary election for mayor without having to compete in a runoff, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.

De Blasio took 43 percent of the vote -- a margin that, should it hold until next week’s election, would be sufficient for him to narrowly pass the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

Former Comptroller Bill Thompson and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn followed at 20 and 18 percent, respectively. Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), Comptroller John Liu, and former City Councilman Sal Albanese all polled below 10 percent.

The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 750 voters between Aug. 28 and Sept. 1.

Three polls released last week, by Quinnipiac, Siena/New York Times and Penn Schoen Berland/amNewYork/News 12, all found de Blasio ahead, with his share of the vote at 36 percent, 32 percent and 29 percent respectively.

The HuffPost Pollster chart for the New York City mayoral primary, which combines results from all of the public polls, shows de Blasio's sharp rise. The chart's trend line currently pegs de Blasio's support at just 34 percent of the vote, however, because it also factors in the lower support measured by last week's polls.

The last three Quinnipiac polls have given de Blasio more support than the surveys of other organizations, although all of the pollsters have shown him rising rapidly into first place.

Some, however, believe Quinnipiac overstates de Blasio’s advantage. Democratic pollster Donna Victoria, a Quinn supporter and donor, took to Twitter to express her dismay with the result: "I wish they'd stop smoking crack over at Quinnipiac," she wrote, characterizing as "irrational" de Blasio's 43 percent of the vote. "So after the election next week, I'll be ready to explain why NYC public polls were so damn wrong," she added.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Quinnipiac's results is the way they show de Blasio surging among both white voters (42 percent) and black voters (47 percent). The latter result is especially notable given that de Blasio is running 22 percentage points ahead of Bill Thompson (at 25 percent), the one black candidate in the race, according to Quinnipiac.

The firm also surveyed likely Republican primary voters, although they found only 101 to interview. The small sample (with a reported margin of error of +/- 9.8 percentage points) gave a large lead to former Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Joseph Lhota (48 percent) over businessman John Catsimatidis (24 percent) and Doe Fund founder George McDonald (10 percent). The results were similar to those of an am New York/News 12 poll released last week.

#QuinniLEAKiac - As it does for every poll it conducts, Quinnipiac University sent news organizations an advance notice stating that results for its new poll would be released at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday. A similar notice was posted on its website. And yet, as has been the case for most of Quinnipiac's recent New York City polls, early word about the results somehow managed to leak out early:

-New York Observer Senior Editor Colin Campbell (12:40 p.m. ET): Hearing VERY good things for BdB in new Q poll, but not confirmed. [@BKcolin]

-Campbell (12:44 p.m. ET): "Quinnipiac seems especially leaky." [@BKcolin]

-Guardian's Harry Enten (12:47 p.m. ET): "A new record a leak from Quinnipiac... 12:40..." [@ForecasterEnten]

-Politico's Maggie Haberman (1:01 p.m. ET): "Word is the Quinnipiac poll is going to make de Blasio's supporters quite happy." [@MaggiePolitico]

-Enten (1:22 p.m. ET): "Perhaps the one true lesson from this season is that Quinnipiac does a terrible job of holding secrets." [@ForecasterEnten]

LITTLE PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR SYRIA AIRSTRIKES - Americans remain widely opposed to military airstrikes in Syria, two new polls show, with voters skeptical of President Barack Obama’s case for intervention. In a Pew Research poll released Tuesday, just 29 percent of Americans favored airstrikes “in response to reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons,” with a near-majority 48 percent opposed….In a Washington Post/ABC poll,also released Tuesday, respondents were told more definitively that “the United States says it has determined that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the civil war there.” In that survey, which found fewer Americans undecided, 36 percent supported airstrikes, and 59 percent opposed them….The new polling also highlights the muddled reaction to a crisis that doesn’t conform neatly to traditional political lines. Partisan support for airstrikes has varied widely across surveys conducted thus far. In the Pew poll, Republicans were both more likely to support strikes and to mistrust President Obama’s ability to oversee them, while Democrats were simultaneously more dubious about military action and more likely to predict that any intervention would be effective. [Pew Research], [WaPost]

WHY PRIMARIES ARE UNPREDICTABLE - Columbia University's Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science, posted a reminder of why the contests in the New York City primaries are relatively hard to predict. Primaries are unlike presidential elections, which as "statistical analysis has demonstrated...are predictable given economic conditions and previous votes in the states." Presidential general elections differ because of their "distinct features," such as having [1] Two major candidates; [2] The candidates clearly differ in their political ideologies and in their positions on economic issues; [3] The two sides have roughly equal financial and organizational resources; [4] The current election is the latest in a long series of similar contests (every four years); [5] A long campaign, giving candidates a long time to present their case and giving voters a long time to make up their minds. Other elections look different." [Monkey Cage]

How primaries differ - Gelman's weekend post reprised comments he made in late 2011 that pointed out several unique features of primaries: "Presidential primaries often have none of the five features I mentioned earlier. With three or more candidates, there is an incentive for strategic voting (not wanting to waste your vote on a candidate who doesn’t have a chance)...The candidates in a primary election are of the same political party and typically differ in only minor ways in their political positions, so it is easier for voters to change their opinions." [NYTimes]

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TUESDAY'S OUTLIERS' - Links to more news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-New Jersey voters grow less positive about the direction of their state. [Fairleigh Dickinson University]

-Andrew Kohut notes that Barack Obama remains "the most popular world leader" heading into the G20. [Pew Research]

-Harry Enten finds union power declining. [Guardian]

-Liz Cheney protests "dirty tricks" by way of a "push poll" in Wyoming. [Daily Caller]

-Dan Amira looks at the partisan breakdown of whom members of Congress follow on Twitter. [NY Mag]

-The data broker behind Acxiom offers a peek behind the curtain. [NYTimes]

-Jake Porway talks about how data can serve humanity. [Flowing Data]

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