(CNN) – Democratic candidates for mayor in New York City, including frontrunner Christine Quinn, hold early leads against potential GOP rivals in a new poll released Wednesday.
The Quinnipiac University survey showed Quinn, the speaker of the New York City Council, with a strong lead over her Democratic primary rivals, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former City Comptroller William Thompson.
Quinn was at 35%, while de Blasio stood at 11% and Thompson was backed by 10% of Democratic primary voters.
On the Republican side, former MTA chief Joseph Lhota leads a field of largely unknown candidates, including businessman John Catsimatidis and newspaper publisher Tom Allon. Among Republican primary voters, Lhota was at 23% and the rest of the field was below 10%. Fifty-three percent of the Republicans surveyed were undecided.
"Who are those guys? Almost no one knows the Republicans who say they want to be mayor. Even Joe Lhota, the front-runner in a primary match-up and the former head of the MTA, is far from a house-hold name," Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
Pitted against Lhota, the top three Democrats all hold big leads – Quinn tops Lhota 62%-17%, while de Blasio leads 57%-17% and Thompson is up 55%-19%.
"The top three Democrats all thump Lhota," Carroll said. "We limit the matchups to candidates who show some strength in their primaries. New York City is a very blue city. Any Republican who wants to follow in the footsteps of Mayors Rudolph Giuliani or Michael Bloomberg will need to win lots of Democratic and independent voters."
While Democrats hold major leads, the race is still in its early stages. New York voters head to the polls in November to select a candidate to succeed Michael Bloomberg, who's held office since 2002.
Early polling back then showed Bloomberg, then a Republican, trailing Democratic candidates by wide margins. He went on to win against his Democratic rival Mark Green 50%-48%. A number of factors contributed to the jump in support for Bloomberg, including an endorsement from then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was enjoying a spike in popularity in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted by telephone between January 8-14 from 1,332 New York City voters. The sampling error was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.