By Edith Honan and Francesca Trianni
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Anthony Weiner vowed to stay in the New York City mayor's race on Monday, despite a poll that showed his support plummeting to fourth place among Democratic voters a week after new revelations surfaced about his sexually charged Internet activity.
A Quinnipiac University poll showed the former congressman, who once held first place in the race, with just 16 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who leads with 27 percent, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who has 21 percent, and former Comptroller William Thompson, with 20 percent.
"Polls don't change anything," Weiner said in a statement. "I continue to be grateful and humbled by the continued support of so many New Yorkers who are willing to give me a second chance."
Until recently, Weiner, 48, had been leading the pack of Democrats who hope to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the end of this year. For a time, the public appeared ready to move past the scandal that cost Weiner his job in Congress after he admitted sending lewd pictures to women over the Internet. However, the latest revelations, which show Weiner continued the racy behavior long after his resignation, appear to be whittling back that support.
Weiner was dealt another serious blow on Sunday when his campaign manager, Danny Kedem, quit about six weeks before the September 10 Democratic primary.
"Weiner was hurt by the recurrences of the scandal, by the chaos in his campaign and he'll probably hurt some more," said Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College. "The question is whether he can find a way to come back."
The poll results came on the same day Weiner tried to push back against a growing chorus of fellow Democrats calling on him to leave the race as he moved to focus media attention on his book of policy proposals.
Among the nationally recognized Democrats calling for Weiner to step down is a former top aide to President Barack Obama, David Axelrod, who on Sunday told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Weiner would not win the race and is just "wasting time and space."
Weiner's plunge in the polls has created an opening for his opponents in the Democratic primary.
"With six weeks to go, anything can happen, but it looks like former Congressman Anthony Weiner may have sexted himself right out of the race for New York City mayor," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "And with Weiner in free-fall, it begins to look like a three-way race again."
Bill de Blasio, who currently holds the elected office of city Public Advocate, is now in second place. Polls last week had him at the back of the crowded mayoral race.
"The big surprise is that de Blasio has really moved up, his campaign has seemed energized lately," Sherrill said. "He might have picked up some people who have left Weiner."
Calling on Weiner to drop out of the race, de Blasio said that voters are looking for change in City Hall.
The poll also examined what the race would look like if Weiner heeded the call to drop out, a scenario that would put Quinn in first place with 30 percent and create a second-place tie between Bill Thompson, a former Comptroller, and de Blasio - each with 25 percent.
The telephone survey of 446 of city Democrats conducted over the past five days had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.
(Reporting by Francesca Trianni; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Andre Grenon)
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