Exit polls: De Blasio leads in NYC mayoral primary race

Mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio leaves a voting booth after casting his primary vote on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, at the Park Slope Public Library in Brooklyn, N.Y. New Yorkers head to the polls Tuesday in a primary election that begins the process of replacing Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor who has defined their city for 12 years. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

NEW YORK As polls closed in the Democratic Primary race for mayor of New York City, exit polls conducted by Edison Research showed the city's Public Advocate Bill De Blasio in first place with a lead over Bill Thompson and Christine Quinn. The poll showed De Blasio vying for a chance to break 40 percent when all the votes are counted and possibly avoid a runoff, and went into Election Day leading in the pre-election polls.

For New York's Democrats, this is a change election, and De Blasio was benefiting from that. While about half of Democratic primary voters approve of the way current Mayor Michael Bloomberg is handling his job, seven in 10 want to see the next mayor move the city in another direction, and most of them were backing De Blasio. The top candidate quality voters were seeking was someone who would bring change, and the exit polls show De Blasio leads with those voters as polls close.

Jobs and unemployment was the most important issue to voters as they went to the polls, ahead of education and crime.

Quinn was getting the support of voters who would like to see the next mayor continue Bloomberg's policies, but there were few of such voters. Two-thirds of Democratic voters say changing city law to allow Bloomberg to run for a third term was a bad idea. Thompson held his own with moderates, but liberals made up the bulk of these Democratic voters, and De Blasio was winning them.

De Blasio and Thompson receive positive ratings from voters. But troubling for Quinn was more than half of Democratic voters in exit polls have an unfavorable opinion of her, while Anthony Weiner, who was plagued by a sexting scandal, is viewed unfavorably by seven in 10 Democratic voters.

One of the issues that arose in the campaign was the New York Police Department's controversial policy of "stop and frisk". A majority of Democrats casting ballots say the practice was excessive and results in innocent people being harassed. De Blasio, who has said he would end that policy if elected, got the support of nearly six in 10 who described the policy as excessive.

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    Anthony Salvanto is CBS News elections director