By Edith Honan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has surged past his Democratic rivals, for the first time winning enough support to potentially avoid a run-off election, according to a Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday.
De Blasio, the city's public advocate, has campaigned on a liberal platform of raising taxes on the city's wealthiest to fund universal pre-kindergarten and ending racial profiling by police. He leads Democrats with 43 percent of the vote one week before the city's primary votes, the poll found.
A candidate must win more than 40 percent in the primary to avoid a run-off, set for October 1 if needed. The winning Democrat will be heavily favored against any Republican nominee in the November 5 general election.
Former city Comptroller Bill Thompson follows de Blasio with 20 percent, while City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who had led the race for much of the campaign and would be the city's first female and openly gay mayor, has 18 percent.
De Blasio's ascent reflects his growing popularity with black and female voters - even as Thompson, who would be the city's second-ever black mayor, and Quinn have sought to bolster their support among these groups.
Former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner, who briefly led polls early this summer until his lead evaporated amid new revelations about lewd pictures he sent to women, has 7 percent and current Comptroller John Liu has 4 percent.
On the Republican side, Joseph Lhota, former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a top aide to former mayor Rudy Giuliani, is backed by 48 percent of likely voters; businessman John Catsimatidis follows with 24 percent and Doe Fund founder George McDonald trails with 10 percent.
Nearly half of all black voters back de Blasio, while a quarter are behind Thompson and 6 percent back Quinn, the poll found. Among women, De Blasio leads with 44 percent, with 19 percent for Thompson and 18 percent for Quinn.
On the campaign trail, de Blasio has made much of his bi-racial family. His wife, Chirlane McCray, who is black, often campaigns with him, and their teenage son, Dante, has appeared in campaign ads.
"Dante's big Afro is the campaign image everyone remembers," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Whether it's Dante or the issues, or a mixture of both, de Blasio leads Speaker Christine Quinn among women and former Comptroller Bill Thompson among black voters."
A quarter of likely Democratic voters say there is a "good chance" they will change their mind, but most say they have settled on a candidate.
The survey of 750 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted from August 28 to September 1 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. The survey of 101 likely Republican primary voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 9.8 percentage points.
(Editing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by David Gregorio)