New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner is surging in the polls, but he has practically everybody except Jewish voters to thank for his comeback.
The disgraced ex-Congressman is drawing large chunks of the black, Latino and Asian vote — but Jews like him even less than they did a month ago when he first announced his bid for mayor.
Shockingly, Weiner, the only Jewish candidate, has lower favorable ratings among Jews than he does among any other religious group, according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC New York/Marist poll. African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians also like Weiner more than Jewish Democrats.
The proportion of Jews who reported an unfavorable impression of Weiner jumped to 52% in June poll from 44% in Marists’s May poll.
With the Democratic mayoral primary still months away, the shape of the race shifted dramatically last week. Polls published by Marist and Quinnipiac University showed Weiner, who resigned from his Congressional seat after Tweeting inappropriate photos, in or near the lead in the Democratic primary contest.
Jewish voters appear not yet to have settled on a consensus candidate, according to the Marist poll. The broad enthusiasm among Democrats for Weiner, however, doesn’t appear to be shared by Jewish voters.
“There’s a consistency in how these different groups are reacting to his candidacy, and clearly Jews are not enthusiastic at this point,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist poll. “If you were to think that due to Weiner’s background he would be doing better among Jews, he isn’t.”
In interviews conducted between June 17 and June 21, more than half of Jewish New York City Democrats told Marist pollsters that they had an unfavorable impression of Weiner. That’s the highest unfavorable rating of any group broken out by the Marist analysts, including Protestants, Catholics, Whites, Latinos, Asians, and African-Americans.
Only 40% of Jewish registered voters said that they would consider voting for Weiner. Among Protestant registered voters, that number was 51%.
Weiner’s weak support among Jews is not for lack of trying. A review of public schedules issued by Weiner’s campaign since May shows a handful of Jewish events, including a meeting with the rebbe of the Munkach Hasidic sect, attendance at two Jewish-themed mayoral forums, an appearance at the Israel Day Parade, and a visit to a glatt kosher market in Boro Park, Brooklyn.
While Jewish voters aren’t excited about Weiner, it’s hard to say which candidate they prefer. When asked which candidate they would vote for, Jews split evenly among Weiner, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson, and Bill de Blasio. Yet when asked whether they have a favorable impression of each candidate, de Blasio and Thompson stick out.
A full 63% of Jews report a favorable impression of de Blasio, while 66% report a favorable impression of Thompson.
“Although he’s not carrying Jews, it is a stronger group for him than other groups,” Miringoff said of de Blasio.
Weiner, for his part, polls far better among African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos than among Whites. When asked to pick among the Democratic candidates, 26% of African American Democrats and 43% of Asian Democrats said they would vote for Weiner, compared with 19% of Whites.
Observers warn that these numbers are likely skewed by the media coverage Weiner’s nascent campaign has enjoyed in the past month. “There’s been wall-to-wall press coverage since the announcement, and the coverage is generally favorable,” said Evan Stavisky, a consultant with The Parkside Group. “However, there’s a lot of campaigning still to be done.”
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.