| Speculation about outgoing NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson's future has been all over the place. Rumors include a run for state comptroller, a run for Charlie Rangel's House seat, a second run for mayor in 2013, or a primary challenge to appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. That last possibility is the subject of two new polls, which offer widely differeing results.
Quinnipiac (12/7-13, registered voters, no trendlines):
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-inc): 28
Bill Thompson (D): 41
As you might expect, Thompson cleans up among black voters, 65-11. Interestingly, he also leads among women, 39-28. Gillibrand gets good favorables among Democrats (34-7), but Thompson, probably by virtue of his recent mayoral campaign, is even better known among members of his own party (45-6). In the state as a whole, both Dems have pretty low name rec, with Gillibrand at just 26-15 faves and Thompson at 25-10. (This almost certainly explains why both are shown losing to non-candidate Rudy Giuliani - Gillibrand is down 50-40, and Thompson is down 52-36.)
Siena (PDF) (12/6-9, registered voters, no trendlines):
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-inc): 32
Bill Thompson (D): 23
Harold Ford (D): 7
Jonathan Tasini (D): 3
Somewhat hilariously, Siena tested Harold Ford (yeah, that Harold Ford) - hopefully this is the last we'll hear of that nonsense. In any event, while the Dem head-to-head margins diverge considerably, both pollsters show Gillibrand with similar levels of support. Also, some of the favorables (PDF) don't look too different. Gillibrand is 31-22 overall and 35-18 among Dems, while Thompson is at 25-17 and 32-16 (that last number differs the most). Gillibrand nets similar numbers against Rudy (49-42), but edges Pataki (46-43), while Thompson loses 56-34 and 49-36, respectively.
So it's hard to say what exactly is going on here. Polling folks with such low name recognition can be tricky. What's more, neither Siena nor Quinnipiac divulges their sample composition (come on, guys), so we can't judge who best has their finger on the pulse of the state. I'll also note that Siena had a smaller sample than Q - exactly how small, I'm not sure, because they didn't reveal their Dem-only sample size. But Quinnipiac tested more Dems (719) than Siena's entire sample (665). (UPDATE: Siena's Dem sample size was 315.) Anyhow, this may all be moot if Thompson doesn't take the plunge, but food for thought nonetheless.