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Thompson closing gap on Bloomberg in mayoral race: Poll

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s lead over City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and city Comptroller William Thompson in the bid for the city’s highest office has slimmed, although many city and Queens residents said they still do not know much about either of the mayor’s challengers, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Bloomberg would beat Avella 51 percent to 28 percent in a hypothetical election, compared to the 57 percent to 27 percent measured in June 16, according to the poll released last week.

Thompson, a Democrat, still trails Bloomberg 37 percent to 47 percent among city voters, but this 10-point gap is less than half of Bloomberg’s 54 percent to 32 percent lead in mid-June, the poll reported.

Thompson tops Avella in a Democratic primary by 44 percent to 11 percent, with 39 percent undecided.

“I think the poll shows that there’s still a huge percentage of undecided voters,” Avella said. “People are only just now starting to focus on the campaign. Plus, Thompson and I still have two debates coming up, so there’s still a long way to go.”

Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said Bloomberg’s declining numbers could be attributed to an increasingly aggressive campaign from Thompson.

Carroll said “there’s a little life in the mayoral race as Comptroller Bill Thompson gains some ground on Mayor Michael Bloomberg.”

“It could be Thompson’s increased attacks on the mayor, it could be that more voters — 61 percent — say Bloomberg’s campaign spending is overkill, but Thompson is closer than Democrat Fernando Ferrer was at this point in 2005, when he lost by 19 points.”

Bloomberg received 58.4 percent of the vote in 2005, compared to Ferrer’s 39 percent.

“Mike Bloomberg has spent nearly $50 million to see his poll numbers decline,” said Anne Fenton, a spokeswoman for Thompson. “It’s clear that after eight years of a Republican mayor who’s been focused on those at the top, New Yorkers want change in City Hall.”

Bloomberg’s office did not return a call for comment.

Both Avella and Thompson seem to have a name-recognition issue, with 78 percent of those polled saying they do not know enough about the Queens councilman to say whether or not they had a favorable opinion of him and 52 percent saying the same for Thompson.

There does seem to be an increase in the number of people who do know about Avella, as the 78 percent who said they do not know enough about the councilman is less than the 87 percent who said the same in mid-June.

The 16 percent who did say they had a positive impression of Avella was an increase over the 9 percent who reported the same in the June 16 Quinnipiac poll.

More residents of the Bronx seemed to favor Avella than in the councilman’s home borough, and 28 percent of those polled in the Bronx said they had a “favorable” impression of Avella, compared to 19 percent in Queens.

Of the Queens voters who were polled, 50 percent said they would cast their ballots for Bloomberg, while 30 percent said they would throw their support behind Avella.

“Once more people get to know me, the gap will close,” Avella said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

Updated 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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