Reuters

A little disgrace never hurt anyone, especially in New York City, where the scandal-plagued comeback kids are beating their straitlaced opponents.

A little disgrace never hurt anyone, especially in New York City, where the scandal-plagued comeback kids in the civic elections are leading over their more straitlaced opponents. The latest numbers have Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer both sitting pretty--which is to say, they're on top.

In the latest Quinnipiac poll, former congressman Weiner is ahead of New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, his biggest competition, by 25 to 22 percent in the race for mayor. And former governor Eliot Spitzer is beating Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer by 48 percent to 33 percent in the race for city comptroller. The fallen golden boys don't look quite so tainted now. 

What Spitzer and Weiner have in common over their opponents is an early and aggressive marketing campaign via sex scandal. Being bad is good in New York, for better or for worse. People may know Weiner because of his sexually explicit-sexting scandal or Spitzer because of his dalliances with ladies of the night, but it's working for the two candidates. Other than those two, polled citizens were practically indifferent to every other choice. When pollsters were asked to pass a favorable or unfavorable opinion about the candidates, Weiner and Spitzer are the only two whose "haven't heard enough" scores came in under 20 percent. No one knows who the other guys are. 

If you don't believe us, look at the data. Below, we've plotted two things: the percentage of people who've heard of a candidate (blue line, calculated by subtracting those who "haven't heard enough" from 100 percent) and the percentage of support each candidate gets in his or her race. In fact, the race itself really doesn't matter, comptroller or mayor; there is a strong correlation between awareness and voter support either way.

Politics is derided as being a popularity contest. That's only partly right.

Top Image: Eric Thayer/Reuters.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Wire.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    How Poor Americans Get Exploited by Their Landlords

    American landlords derive more profit from renters in low-income neighborhoods, researchers Matthew Desmond and Nathan Wilmers find.

  2. A photo of the interior of a WeWork co-working office.
    Design

    WeWork Wants to Build the ‘Future of Cities.’ What Does That Mean?

    The co-working startup is hatching plans to deploy data to reimagine urban problems. In the past, it has profiled neighborhoods based on class indicators.

  3. An illustration of a private train.
    Transportation

    Let’s Buy a Train

    If you dream of roaming the U.S. in a your own personal train car, you still can. But Amtrak cuts have railcar owners wondering if their days are numbered.

  4. Design

    Cities Deserve Better Than These Thomas Heatherwick Gimmicks

    The “Vessel” at New York’s Hudson Yards—like so many of his designs—look as if the dystopian world of 1984 has been given a precious makeover.

  5. How To

    Want Solar Panels on Your Roof? Here's What You Need to Know

    A handy reference for navigating an emerging industry.