Christine Quinn has to be sweating.
With yesterday's release of a new Q poll, the City Council Speaker may be seeing her political life flash in front of her eyes as Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is approaching the 40 percentage points needed to avoid a primary runoff on Oct. 1st. Here are a few thoughts I have in the wake of this poll that shows Quinn deadlocked with Bill Thompson for a fight for a distant second place:
1) The collapse of Anthony Weiner gave Bill de Blasio his big opening with white liberal voters.
The two candidates have had massive reversal of fortunes since a July 24th Q poll: Weiner has plummeted 18 percentage points while de Blasio has picked up 21 points. Meanwhile, both Quinn and Thompson's numbers have stayed virtually the same over the last month.
2) De Blasio is playing the role of Barack Obama in 2008 to Quinn's Hillary Clinton.
Those who want to see the city go in a different direction overwhelmingly favor de Blasio over Quinn 42 to 14 percent. (Thompson gets 23 percent of the change-lovers.) Those who want the city going in the same direction prefer Quinn to de Blasio -- 38 to 22 percent. The problem for Quinn is that 65 percent of those polled want to see the city go in a new direction. And people who want change are often motivated to vote.
Knowing this, Team Quinn is emphasizing in a new ad that Quinn was described as "a forceful counterpart to Mr. Bloomberg" in the Times editorial that endorsed her.
3) There's an enthusiasm gap.
Almost half of Quinn's supporters (47 percent) say there's a "good chance" they'll change their vote on Primary Day compared to only 26 percent and 27 percent of Thompson and de Blasio supporters, respectively.
4) Liberals really like de Blasio – and those are the people who generally vote in primaries.
De Blasio gets 50 percent of those who describe themselves as "very" liberal to Quinn's 22 percent and Thompson's 13 percent. For those who are "somewhat" liberal: de Blasio has 42 percent while Thompson has 23 percent and Quinn gets 19 percent.
5) Can de Blasio win the primary outright?
While he's certainly the flavor of the week and momentum seems to fuel more momentum, it will be difficult for de Blasio to avoid a runoff. This poll was conducted from last Thursday to this Tuesday – and Quinn wasn't endorsed by The Times until Sunday. (But let's not get carried away about The Times, Team Quinn. Only eight percent of those polled said they're undecided). I also think that Bill Thompson is going to get more support from the African-American community than the poll indicates (25 percent to de Blasio's 34 percent.) The Q poll also doesn't take into account that there will be nine candidates on the ballot on Sept. 10th, including Erick Salgado, who will likely get a small amount of the Latino vote. It's also very possible that John Liu – who has outworked all of his rivals -- will get more than six percent. This makes it very hard for anyone to get 40 percent of the vote.
6) This race will likely get extremely negative.
Quinn and Thompson's poll numbers have barely moved since the July 24th poll while de Blasio has taken off like a rocket. Since July 24th, both Quinn and Thompson have been focusing on their own biographies in their campaign ads and mailings. That will change if they want to win. (Thompson already has a new TV ad that accuses de Blasio of lying about stop-and-frisk.) Expect a lot of very tough ads and campaign mail over the next week that rips into de Blasio.
While there will be at least two new polls coming out over the next several days, the bottom line is that de Blasio is strongly winning the support of people who typically vote in primaries. The wind is at his back and it's very likely that either Quinn or Thompson will be political history in less than two weeks.