The past week has felt like a major turning point in the race for mayor. Consider the bookends: Last Monday night, word started circulating of new Anthony Weiner sext revelations. This afternoon came a new Quinnipiac poll ratifying the fallout from the appearance of Carlos Danger: Weiner has dropped from first place, and 26 percent, in Quinnipiac’s previous survey, to fourth place and 16 percent. To a man who claims that more scandal will make him a better mayor, the new numbers, coming after a lot of relentless mocking, won’t look too bad. But it’s all the things that have happened in between the emergence of Sydney Leathers and today that make the past week significant, not simply for Weiner. They also guarantee that there are still twists ahead.
On Saturday, news broke that Weiner’s campaign manager had quit — which won’t make much difference in a practical sense, because the candidate has been directing the show. More concerning for him should be the chorus of calls from Democratic eminences that he should quit; the inference that they’re acting in the interests of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Weiner’s quasi in-laws, isolates him even more.
Meanwhile, believe it or not, the people who could actually be our next mayor are doing important things, too. There’s been stiff competition for black and Latino votes, and yesterday Bill Thompson made a bold, emotional play to hold onto his base, equating the killing of Trayvon Martin with the stop-and-frisk tactics of the NYPD. As Capitol New York’s Azi Paybarah smartly points out, Thompson had, as recently as two weeks ago, downplayed the importance of the Martin verdict in New York. Christine Quinn, who’s back on top, and Bill de Blasio, who’s running in second place in this latest poll, are competing hard for the minority votes that are Thompson’s foundation. And Quinn, with an inadvertent boost from Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, is renewing her appeal to female voters of every color.
With six weeks to go, however, this race remains fluid, with roughly half the voters polled saying they’d be willing to switch horses. “I have little regard for these polls,” a strategist for one of the top contenders says. “Their screens are bad, their weighting is bad.” Even if the methodology is slightly off, today’s numbers will likely drive the next turn in the narrative: Much of the spotlight will shift away from Weiner and toward Quinn, and some will focus on whether de Blasio’s recent surge in momentum will be enough to vault him into the Democratic runoff. Then again, why should August be any more predictable than July?