Anthony "Disgraced Congressmember" Weiner has filed initial paperwork with the City of New York, suggesting that he has already spent about $115,000 toward a bid for Mayor.
This isn't entirely a surprise. Last summer, rumors began to circulate that Weiner was planning a comeback. Nor is it a surprise that he'd aim for the city's top job. Before Mayor Michael Bloomberg finagled a third term in 2009, Weiner's name was mentioned among the possible top candidates for the job. The intervening years, of course, have not been kind to the one-time Democratic star. Or, rather, Twitter hasn't been.
So what did Weiner spend money on? According to the filing, five things: rent, taxes, phones, polling, and consulting.
It's the polling that's most interesting. The poll (or polls) were performed by California-based David Binder Research — the same firm to which Weiner paid $52,500 for consulting and "research." The polling cost a similar amount, $54,000.
If you're curious what 54 grand gets you in polling, the answer is: a lot. It would need to. There are two things Weiner needs to find out, and a lot of things he wants to find out. He needs to find out if he has any shot in Hell and, if so, how he stacks up against the opposition. He wants to find out how that breaks down by borough and demographic group, how various messages might work to persuade people he deserves a second change, possible language he could use to undermine the competition. He'd need to do reasonably big samples of voters in at least four of the boroughs — Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. Two things contribute to the cost of polls: the number of people you call and the number of questions you ask them. Increasing both could build up a $50,000 tab without much trouble.
At the end of January, people around the city started getting exactly that sort of call. According to the Daily News:
The voter said the survey-taker asked whether he had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Weiner, who was a mayoral contender until he was forced to resign in 2011 after he got caught sexting women other than his wife and then lying about it.
The pollster was also gauging voters’ opinions of four bona fide mayoral hopefuls on the Democratic side: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Controller John Liu, former Controller Bill Thompson and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Which is textbook.
The paper also indicated that Weiner didn't respond to requests for comment. No need anymore. The filing speaks volumes.
Update, 7:53 p.m.: A former colleague points out one strong possibility for that $52,500 in "research" — focus groups.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.