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July 17th, 2013
07:01 PM ET

Redemption for Weiner and Spitzer?

A new poll of New York city voters this week rocked headlines nearly as much as the "tabloid twins" it has leading their respective primary races–former Rep. Anthony Weiner, and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Spitzer, who resigned after a prostitution scandal in 2008, has a double digit lead in Democratic primary for New York City comptroller barely a week after announcing his candidacy, while Weiner, the failed tweeter, is ahead of the pack in the Democratic mayoral race.

Spitzer leads Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer 48%-33%, while Weiner is ahead of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in a crowded Democratic race, 25%-22%.

"Whatever one's record may have been before the fall from grace, you need to show that you have changed in some way," said Spitzer on NBC's "The Late Show with Jay Leno" last week.

But is it their own personal growth that Spitzer and Weiner have to thank, or the public's tolerance?

The poll of New York Democrats also found that New Yorkers are three times more concerned with a politician's financial impropriety than with sexual misconduct.

"I think it's increasingly about New Yorkers–and Americans in general–really not caring about these kinds of scandals anymore," said John Stanton, Buzzfeed's Washington bureau chief.

"These guys are not really running against people with big name recognition or the kind of people voters would look at and say, 'This guy is much better than Eliot Spitzer or Weiner,' and I think that really is helping them," said Stanton.

This name recognition, aided and abetted by their headline scandals and the press they receive, helps Weiner and Spitzer in races filled with lesser-known politicians, according to CNN contributor Errol Louis, host of NY1's "Inside City Hall."

"Even if people don't know why they know them, it's a name that resonates with them," said Louis. "It sort of does a disservice, frankly, to the other candidates."

Additionally, the Quinnipiac poll shows both candidates trailing among women. Spitzer received support from 44% of the women polled compared to 53% of the men; Weiner trails by eight points with women, 21% to 29%.

Despite the similarities between their narratives, Weiner and Spitzer have approached their second-chance races with different strategies, according to WNYC political reporter Anna Sale.

"Anthony Weiner has been hitting the ground, going to town meetings, going to political club meetings, and running a very local campaign," said Sale. "Eliot Spitzer on the other hand, has been on the "Tonight Show," he's going on national media, so a very different strategy for how he wants to be redeemed by voters."

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