(Reuters) - Disgraced former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner is gaining ground on his Democratic rivals in the race for New York City Mayor, according to a new poll.
Weiner, who resigned from office two years ago in a sexting scandal, had the support of 19 percent of Democrats in a Marist poll released on Tuesday. That puts him six points behind early frontrunner City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who had support of 25 percent of Democrats.
A separate poll released on May 22, the day that Weiner formally declared his candidacy, had shown Quinn, who would be the city's first female and lesbian mayor, with a wider 10 point lead.
More than half of registered voters said Weiner deserves a second chance, while nearly 40 percent said Weiner does not have the character to be mayor, the poll found.
All of the Republican contenders, including businessman John Catsimatidis and Joe Lhota, the former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, are regarded as long-shots.
The poll was released hours before Weiner is due to participate in his first mayoral debate. Quinn, who has attended dozens of such forums in recent months, has said she will not attend.
The telephone survey of 1,001 New York City adults was conducted May 22 through May 24. There poll included 810 registered voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, and 492 Democrats, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Scott Malone and Nick Zieminski)