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Poll: Eliot Spitzer widens lead in comptroller race

Comptroller candidate Eliot Spitzer marches in the Annual

Comptroller candidate Eliot Spitzer marches in the Annual New York Dominican Day Parade in Manhattan. (Aug. 11, 2013) Credit: Charles Eckert

Eliot Spitzer has a 19-point lead over his rival for New York City comptroller, Scott Stringer, a poll released Wednesday found.

Propelled by an advantage of better than 3-to-1 among black voters, the former governor was favored by 56 percent of Democrats likely to cast ballots, to Stringer's 37 percent, the Quinnipiac University poll showed. That was a significant gain for Spitzer over a July 25 Quinnipiac survey that put the race in a statistical tie: Spitzer 49 percent, Stringer 45 percent.

Poll director Maurice Carroll noted that Spitzer's boost came after heavy television advertising by his campaign. As of last week, Spitzer, who is financing his run from his personal fortune, had spent more than $2 million on the ads, according to campaign finance reports.

On Tuesday, the Stringer campaign released its first TV ad, a 30-second spot titled "Making It," that seeks to introduce voters to Stringer, who is relatively unknown outside of Manhattan, where he is borough president.

"As more New Yorkers get to know him, we are confident they will support him and his fight for the middle class," said Stringer spokeswoman Audrey Gelman. She would not disclose the cost of the ad buy, but called it "significant."

Spitzer spokesman Hari Sevugan declined to comment on the poll.

The poll found black voters back Spitzer over Stringer by 68 percent to 21 percent. Among whites, Stringer led 53 percent to 43 percent. There was little difference in the results between men and women.

Spitzer is attempting a political comeback from a prostitution scandal that drove him from office in 2008, and Carroll theorized that black voters are "more inclined to sympathize with the underdog."

Most voters said Spitzer's past behavior was a factor to consider. But 44 percent said that while an issue, it should not disqualify him, and 32 percent deemed it a nonissue.

The poll was conducted between Aug. 7 and Monday among 579 likely Democratic primary voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

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