JONATHAN LEMIRE | AP
NEW YORK (AP) -- Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has openedup a significant lead in the race to become the Democratic nominee for mayor,according to a new poll.
De Blasio became the race's surprising new front-runnerearlier this month, and his surge hasn't abated. He is now the choice of 36percent of likely Democratic voters, according to a Quinnipiac University pollreleased Wednesday.
That puts him near the 40 percent threshold that wouldprevent a run-off. If no candidate in the Sept. 10 primary hits that mark, thetop two candidates advance to a run-off three weeks later.
The margin for second place and the other potential run-offspot is razor thin: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is at 21 percent,while ex-comptroller Bill Thompson is at 20 percent.
De Blasio, who is running on a more liberal platform than Quinnand Thompson, also sports big leads in hypothetical run-off matchups with histwo closest rivals. He would beat Quinn, the former longtime front-runner, 59percent to 30 percent and Thompson 52 percent to 36 percent, according to thepoll.
The survey, of 602 likely Democratic primary voters, has amargin of error of 4 percentage points.
Former congressman Anthony Weiner, who briefly led the raceuntil his support collapsed amid a new sexting scandal, has fallen to 8percent. Comptroller John Liu is at 6.
De Blasio's support jumped from 30 percent in a Quinnipiacpoll taken Aug. 13. His momentum appears connected to an ad campaign centeredon his interracial family, a widely publicized fight to keep a Brooklynhospital open and his calls for significant reforms to the New York PoliceDepartment, which has been heavily criticized recently for its stop-and-friskpolicy. He also benefited greatly from Weiner's implosion.
De Blasio campaign manager Bill Hyers said his candidate wason the upswing "because he is the only Democrat who will boldlybreak" from policies formed during Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 12 years inoffice.
Staffers from Thompson's and Quinn's campaigns downplayedthe poll's findings.
De Blasio, who's white, leads Thompson, the race's onlyblack candidate, among likely black voters 34 percent to 25 percent, accordingto the poll. Thompson, the Democrats' 2009 nominee, is banking on winning themajority of the black voters.
And de Blasio's status as a Boston Red Sox fan doesn't appearto be hurting him as only 8 percent of New Yorkers surveyed said it would makethem less likely to support a candidate.
However, the race is far from over. Among those surveyed, 31percent said there's a "good chance" they will change their mindsabout a candidate in the 13 days before the primary. Also, New Yorkerstraditionally settle on a candidate late and the survey included only a fewdays after Quinn secured the endorsement of The New York Times.
The general election, which will include the Republicannominee and independent Adolfo Carrion Jr., will be held Nov. 5.
Bloomberg, an independent, is finishing his third term inCity Hall.