De Blasio Tops Lhota 65% to 22% as NYC Mayor Race Begins

New York Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio begins his general-election campaign leading Republican Joseph Lhota 65 percent to 22 percent, according to a poll released yesterday.

“The numbers show a wide gap, with Democrats very united,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Poughkeepsie, New York-based Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the survey for the NBC 4 New York television station and the Wall Street Journal. “While many weeks remain before the Nov. 5 general election, Lhota must play catch-up in a big way.”

The two-day survey began Sept. 15, when de Blasio still faced the prospect of a runoff with former city Comptroller William Thompson, the Democrats’ second-place finisher in the Sept. 10 primary. It ended the next day, when Thompson withdrew.

De Blasio, 52, prevailed in a seven-candidate field, raising the issue of income inequality in a city where 1 percent take home 39 percent of total income and where housing and the cost of living have become increasingly expensive. Lhota, 58, a top City Hall aide to former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, said he had the experience to keep New York safe and well-managed.

When pollsters asked voters whether Giuliani’s endorsement would persuade them to vote for Lhota, 51 percent said his backing would make them less likely to support the Republican.

No Help

“The Giuliani-Lhota connection is not the answer for Lhota in terms of making up the ground among Democratic voters that he needs to close this wide lead,” Miringoff said.

Lhota’s campaign, in a statement about the poll, turned the focus on de Blasio’s ideas. “Once New Yorkers learn more about Bill’s radical policies, they will be looking for a practical alternative,” the campaign said in the statement.

The Marist survey, based on 930 interviews with registered voters, including 632 who said they were likely to vote, had a 3.2 percentage-point margin of error for registered voters.

While Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 6-to-1 in the most populous U.S. city, New Yorkers haven’t elected a Democrat as mayor since 1989, when David Dinkins beat Giuliani to become the city’s first and only black mayor. Four years later Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney for Manhattan, defeated Dinkins in a rematch.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, is barred from seeking a fourth term this year. He ran twice as a Republican and once as an independent who also appeared on the Republican line.

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