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Long IslandPolitics

Poll: New Yorkers want to keep Chick-fil-A

Tony Scarcellad, left, hugs his partner of 15

Tony Scarcellad, left, hugs his partner of 15 years, Dan Zegelien during the protest of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Pompano Beach, Fla. (Aug. 3, 2012) Credit: AP

New Yorkers want Chick-fil-A to stay in the city despite the controversy created by the fast-food chain owner's opposition to gay marriage, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.

The poll said 82 percent of city residents surveyed said Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy's criticism of same-sex nuptials should not affect the restaurant's ability to gain permits in the city. Despite support for the restaurant, the poll found that a key city opponent of the chain is their top pick for mayor.

About 29 percent of city residents would choose City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to succeed Bloomberg even as she has spearheaded an online petition and campaign that declares the chain unwelcome in New York City.

The poll also found that 83 percent didn't want public officials discouraging New Yorkers from patronizing the restaurant.

"New Yorkers may disagree with what you say, but they defend your right to sell chicken," Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he wouldn't deny permits to Chick-fil-A, which has one location at a New York University dining hall, because that would violate free speech.

Robert Y. Shapiro, a political science professor at Columbia University, said the poll numbers don't surprise him, because New Yorkers tend to separate personal beliefs from government intervention in business matters.

"People are interpreting this as a generic free speech issue," he said of the poll.

Quinn and New Yorkers disagree on the restaurant chain, but she has maintained her popularity because of her recent wedding and other activism, Shapiro said.

"She has been visible on the political and personal front. People now are looking for cues and any information they can get on her," Quinn said.

The poll also found that with 34 percent of those questioned remain undecided on possible mayoral candidates, with less than half choosing City Comptroller John Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Manhattan Media president Tom Allon.

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