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Mayor’s popularity plummets 9 points after term limits fight

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s popularity has plunged by nine points since his proposal to change term limits passed the City Council, according to a Marist poll released Friday.

The poll also showed Bloomberg’s main opponent for mayor next year, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills), gaining ground.

Bloomberg’s approval rating was 59 percent this month, compared to 68 percent in October, marking the first time since 2005 that the mayor’s rating had dipped into the 50s, according to the poll.

Respondents were split as to whether the city was headed in the right direction, with 45 percent agreeing with that statement and 47 percent saying it is headed in the wrong direction. About 8 percent were unsure.

In a controversial move, Bloomberg announced his plan Oct. 2 to extend term limits to give him the chance to run for a third term. The City Council passed the mayor’s proposal in a 29−22 vote Oct. 23 after two contentious hearings at which emotions ran high on both sides.

A plurality — 43 percent — of the poll’s respondents believed term limits were a “bad thing,” compared to 30 percent who thought they were a “good thing” and 27 percent who had no opinion .

By a more than a 2−1 margin, respondents said Bloomberg’s decision to change term limits make them less likely to support his bid for a third term. Nearly 20 percent said they would be more likely to support him because of the decision and 41 percent said it did not make a difference.

Weiner, the clear favorite among Democrats to challenge Bloomberg in 2009, is up seven points from last month’s Marist poll. The numbers still showed him losing to Bloomberg, 51 percent to 37 percent, but that margin is better than October’s poll, which showed Bloomberg at 56 percent to Weiner’s 30 percent.

The poll was the first to include long−shot candidate Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside).

The Queens councilman would lose to Bloomberg 54 percent to 28 percent, but those numbers are only slightly worse than city Comptroller Bill Thompson, whom Bloomberg would defeat 52 percent to 32 percent, based on the poll.

But Avella had a dismal showing in a hypothetical Democratic primary.

Weiner led the three−challenger field with 34 percent, followed by Thompson with 26 percent and Avella at 10 percent with 30 percent of the respondents undecided.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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