Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York, listens to questions during… (Jin Lee/Bloomberg )
A bare majority of New Yorkers believe that Rep. Anthony Weiner, who has apologized for electronically sending inappropriate pictures and messages to six women, should stay in the House of Representatives, but even more want him to skip a bid to become mayor, according to a NY1-Marist Poll released Tuesday.
The poll was conducted after Weiner, 46, held a teary news conference on Monday during which he admitted he had sent semi-nude pictures to women online. He apologized to his family, his friends and his Brooklyn and Queens constituents for the indiscretions but insisted he will not resign from the congressional seat he has held since January 1999.
Weiner is facing a congressional probe by the House Ethics Committee and has become the target of GOP efforts to paint him and his party in a politically negative light. Even traditional Democratic supporters have been silent while eyeing whether the fighting liberal congressman can politically survive.
According to the poll, 51% of those surveyed said they believed Weiner should stay in Congress; 30% said he should step down. Almost one in five, 18%, said they were unsure.
The findings were a little more clear on the 2013 mayoral race, in which Weiner had been expected to run. About 56% said they would prefer if Weiner stayed out of the election; one in four, 25%, said he should run anyway. Nineteen percent said they were unsure.
The poll was conducted Monday and involved telephone interviews with 500 New York City adults. The overall margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for the full sample.
An overwhelming majority, 61% of those surveyed, said they believed Weiner’s behavior was unethical but not illegal. Thirteen percent said the actions were illegal – the same number said the congressman did nothing wrong.
Despite Weiner’s tearful admissions on Monday, nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers said they believed the politician only apologized because he got caught. Just one in four, or 24%, said they thought Weiner was truly sorry.
The poll also offers some insight into how New Yorkers think about the Internet and the transmission of sexual images.
A majority, 54%, said they believed sending lewd photos over the Internet was an unusual practice by politicians, but 30% said they thought it was a common practice. Yet, 83% said they had not sent or said anything over the Internet that they regretted. Only 17% admitted they had.
The poll found that 60% considered sending sexual images to someone other than a spouse to be a form of infidelity; 32% disagreed. Half, 50%, said they could not forgive their partner for sending sexually charged photos. Women are less likely to be forgiving than men: 54% of women would not forgive a partner; 45% of men said they would not.
Overall, 54% said they believed social media was hurtful to relationships, but 19% said it made personal connections better.