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Poll: Spitzer Opens Up 19-Point Lead Over Stringer In Comptroller's Race

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has opened up a commanding lead over his Democratic challenger for the New York City comptroller nomination, a poll out Wednesday shows.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll of likely Democratic voters, Spitzer leads Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer by 19 points, 56 to 37 percent.

The primary will be held on Sept. 10.

Poll: Spitzer Opens Up 19-Point Lead Over Stringer In Comptroller's Race

"Spitzer's all over television and it has to make a difference. The slick ads, terrific ads, an awful lot of them and that's bought him even further recognition than he had going into it," Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Director Maurice Carroll told WCBS 880's Rich Lamb.

Spitzer leads among men, 58-37, among women, 54-36, and among black voters, 68-21. Stringer leads among white voters, 53-43.

"Everyone seems to be against former Gov. Eliot Spitzer except the voters, especially black voters," Carroll said.

As CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday, Stringer's relentless negative ads have not made a dent in his deficit. Iona College political scientist Jeanne Zaino told Kramer that Spitzer's widening advantage may be difficult for Stringer to overcome.

"We've seen Scott Stringer going negative and Eliot Spitzer's numbers have improved steadily and this is a dramatic finding and I think it's far more than I ever would have predicted," Zaino said.

The fact that the primary is only four weeks away may make it even harder for Stringer. Zaino said the voters' calculus on Spitzer is, "He can do the job. I don't care what he does in his private life. I don't like him, I don't want to marry him, but I think he could serve as comptroller."

Stringer seems to think otherwise.

"I would caution it's not necessarily how you start the race; it's how you finish the race,' Stringer said Wednesday.

Instead of a left hook into Spitzer's jaw, which has been his basic campaign strategy so far, Stringer is now playing rope-a-dope, keeping his powder dry with a new positive commercial about himself and a charm offensive to try to convince minority voters to support him.

He said he wants to use the powers of the comptroller's office to empower immigrant communities.

"I will continue to fight against unjust deportation that destroys families," Stringer said.

LINK: Full Poll Results (pdf)

The poll found by a margin of 57 to 40 percent, the sex scandal which led to Spitzer's resignation as governor in 2008 is a legitimate issue in the campaign.

Spitzer's past behavior disqualifies him from consideration as a candidate, 23 percent of Democrats say, while 44 percent say it is an issue, but does not disqualify him. Another 32 percent say this behavior is not even an issue.

"Spitzer's history as 'Client 9' is a legit issue, voters think, but they don't think it disqualifies him from running," Carroll said.

CBS 2 is your station for Campaign 2013, including key debates. Spitzer and Stringer will square off again live on CBS 2 at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22.

The Republican candidates for mayor will square off for their first debate on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m.

The debates are officially sanctioned by the New York City Campaign Finance Board, for candidates who received public money to run for office.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 579 likely Democratic primary voters by phone from Aug. 7 to 12. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points.

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