Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota entered their final stretch of campaigning before Tuesday's mayoral election as a new poll showed the Democratic front-runner holding firmly to a commanding lead.
De Blasio has 65 percent support from likely voters, compared with Republican Lhota's 24 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist survey released Sunday night.
De Blasio has a 64- to 26-percent favorability/unfavorability rating among registered voters, while Lhota's is 32 percent to 47 percent. The poll, conducted last Tuesday to Friday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points for likely voters and 3 percentage points for registered voters.
Both candidates took to the pulpit at Harlem churches Sunday. It was de Blasio who received a standing ovation reflective of the overwhelming support he enjoys from African-American voters -- 90 percent to Lhota's 2 percent, the new poll showed.
Lhota, accompanied by his wife, Tamra, and daughter, Kathryn, spoke at the Abyssinian Baptist Church Sunday for less than five minutes and garnered polite applause. He promised he wouldn't tolerate racial profiling by the NYPD. "If a police officer does it, that police officer will lose their job," he said.
De Blasio visited First Corinthian Baptist Church, where hundreds jumped to their feet, cheered and applauded when the pastor mentioned his name.
De Blasio supporter Harry Belafonte, a singer and civil rights activist, created a stir in introducing the candidate by likening conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, prominent donors to conservative causes, to members of the Ku Klux Klan. Manhattan resident David Koch and his wife, Julia, have donated $9,900 to Lhota's campaign and $490,100 to two political action committees supporting the Republican.
De Blasio spoke for about 14 minutes without mentioning Belafonte's comment, focusing on his push for economic equality. "The changes will only happen with you," he told the congregation. "If we do that together, this can be a city for everyone again."
De Blasio distanced himself from the broadside against the Koch brothers by Belafonte, who had said: "They make up the heart and the thinking in the minds of those who would belong to the Ku Klux Klan. They are white supremacists."
He told reporters after his speech that "I have great respect for Harry Belafonte, but I think that was the wrong way to talk about them." De Blasio added, however, that the Kochs have hurt the democratic process. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned limits on campaign spending by outside groups, the Kochs have put millions behind mostly conservative causes and candidates.
Lhota later attacked de Blasio for not immediately condemning Belafonte's remarks as well as for calling the activist "a treasure to our nation."
"There is no room in our public discourse for race-baiting, hate speech from anyone -- white, black or otherwise," Lhota said in a statement.
Koch Industries spokesman Rob Tappan, in a statement, called Belafonte's comments "false and reprehensible."