06.03.11

Survey: Anthony Weiner Could Still Be New York Mayor

An exclusive survey by The Daily Beast finds that Weinergate has not derailed the congressman’s chances of becoming New York’s next mayor—and the Twitter scandal has had little impact on whether New Yorkers would vote for him.

Is Anthony Weiner’s political career—and his chance of becoming New York’s next mayor—in jeopardy? It’s a decision that won’t be made bythe pundits, the puritans, or even Andrew Breitbart—it will be made by New Yorkers.

So the Daily Beast hit the streets of the Big Apple and conducted an informal survey of 100 New Yorkers to ask them what they thought about Weinergate and the motormouth representative, who has long had his eye on the New York City mayor’s office.

The verdict? The Weiner haters can fugheddaboutit: even though many believe the infamous grey underwear did indeed belong to Weiner, a majority of respondents—71 percent—said the news hadn’t changed their opinion of Weiner, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens in Congress. Overall, the numbers present a picture of a city that may be rolling its eyes at Weiner, but won’t decide what lever to pull based on whether they’ve seen his lever: two-thirds said the incident wouldn’t factor into a decision on whether to vote for him for mayor.

What’s more, respondents seem to be buying Weiner’s line that he didn’t send out the photo. Slightly more than a quarter believe he sent the questionable photo, but 43 percent think someone else did it—and the rest don’t care. And echoing his own lack of “ certitude” on whether it depicted him, equal proportions believe the photo is and isn’t the congressman.

Sculpture vendor Iddi Amadu took a moment from hawking his wares in Union Square to say it doesn’t matter. “So he likes beautiful ladies! So what, who doesn’t?” Amadu said. “Leave the guy alone. I think this is a conspiracy against him.” In the Financial District, Casset Gelin said she was more interested in his, ahem, performance on the job than anywhere else. ““I couldn’t care less,” she said, adding, “he’s innocent until proven guilty, and it’s about effectiveness at his job.”

The poll’s not scientific—although Daily Beast reporters fanned out to several areas of the city, including Weiner’s district, the poll doesn’t necessarily capture a representative cross-section of a city of more than 8 million. Still, the margins appear to present a rather clear rebuke to Weiner doomsayers. “If this is how he deals with uncomfortable personal questions, voters are going to have a tough time imagining him leading the city in the aftermath of a terrorist attack,” New York’s Chris Smith wrote Thursday. But as Smith has pointed out, good behavior has never been a prerequisite for the mayoralty. Although current Mayor Mike Bloomberg has been criticized mainly for his power grabs on everything from term limits to salt consumption, previous residents of Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s official residence, have included thrice-married, cross-dressing Rudy Giuliani and hot-tempered, F-bomb-prone Ed Koch, among others.

The survey uncovered a few other interesting tidbits, too. More than a third of respondents thought the picture that was tweeted from Weiner’s account depicted Weiner’s weiner, but fewer than a quarter believed he was the one who sent it. Meanwhile, voters in his own district showed remarkable loyalty in the face of their rep’s bumbling behavior—perhaps not a shock for people who live practically in the shadow of the Mets’ Citi Field. Less than one in six believed he sent the photo out, although three times that many were ready to believe he was the owner of the anatomy depicted. One resident of Weiner’s building even told The Daily Beast she’d seen her neighbor and congressman on a potentially incriminating shopping run days earlier. “I just saw him Saturday at Banana Republic buying underwear," she said, but added that although she suspected he took the photo, she thought a hacker must have tweeted it. “I don't think he's that lowlife to send it."

“So he likes beautiful ladies! So what, who doesn’t?” Amadu said. “Leave the guy alone. I think this is a conspiracy against him.”

Read on for full results of the Daily Beast’s Weiner poll—and some juicy quotes from the streets of the New York.

POLL RESULTS:

I. OVERALL

1. Has your opinion of Anthony Weiner changed since the scandal hit headlines?

YES, IT’S BETTER: 3
YES, IT’S WORSE: 26
NO, IT’S THE SAME: 71

2. Has this changed the likelihood that you’d vote for him?

MORE LIKELY: 6
LESS LIKELY: 29
SAME: 65

3. Do you think he sent that picture out?

YES: 27
NO: 43
DON’T KNOW/DON’T CARE: 30

4. Do you think it’s a picture of him?

YES: 43
NO: 14
DON’T KNOW/DON’T CARE: 43

II. IN WEINER’S DISTRICT

1. Has your opinion of Anthony Weiner changed since the scandal hit headlines?

YES, IT’S BETTER: 3
YES, IT’S WORSE: 4
NO, IT’S THE SAME: 26

2. Has this changed the likelihood that you’d vote for him?

MORE LIKELY: 6
LESS LIKELY: 6
SAME: 18

3. Do you think he sent that picture out?

YES: 5
NO: 17
DON’T KNOW/DON’T CARE: 11

4. Do you think it’s a picture of him?

YES: 14
NO: 6
DON’T KNOW/DON’T CARE: 13

RESPONDENTS’ QUOTES

The Skeptics:

“He was a jerk before, he’s a bigger jerk now, and he was going to get caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy! He knows more than he’s divulging. “ — Ed Brocato, Manhattan

“Who keeps a naked picture on his phone? He’s a downlow freak or something.” — Gloria Gonzalez, Manhattan

“Anybody who talks as sleazy as him is guilty of something. His arrogance is absolutely huge.” — Erskine Katz, Manhattan

"Yeah I'd vote for him—if he was the only one on the ballot!" — Crystal Teran, Queens

The Agnostics:

“If it's proven that he sent it, then he's an idiot, and there's no cure for stupidity." — Richard Steinberg, Kew Gardens, Queens

“If he can’t tell [whether or not it’s a picture of him]—you should know. If someone sent me a picture of one of my body parts, I would know.” — Meredith Ledlie, Manhattan

“He’s sure in pretty far. ‘I can’t confirm or deny it’s my wang’?” —Brian Kenny, Manhattan

“I don’t know it if it’s really a big deal to me, but it makes you wonder if he was up to something more worrisome.” — Steve Kurian, Manhattan

The Loyalists:

"I'd vote for him for president. I'd vote for him over Obama any day. I'd vote for him over our mayor, Mr. Moneybags." — Penny Dvoracek, Briarwood, Queens

“I get a sense he’s being framed. I think he’s got some enemies out there that are out to get him.” — Kevin Hayes, Manhattan

"I remember he was at graduation at my elementary school and at my junior high, so I've had nothing but positive experiences with him. So this is coming as a shock…. I don't think someone in his position will be so careless, so it seems implausible." — Saule Buozyte, Kew Gardens

“He’s a good congressman, he just doesn’t know when to shut up. He should have just said no! We don’t need another controversy.” — Michael Danseglio, Manhattan

David Graham is a reporter for Newsweek covering politics, national affairs, and business. His writing has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The National in Abu Dhabi.

With reporting by Jimmy So, Andrew Carter, and David Sessions