By Edith Honan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City voters are divided over whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should run for mayor in 2013, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday.
Clinton's political future has been the subject of considerable speculation as she prepares to leave her post at the State Department next year. The former first lady represented New York in the U.S. Senate for eight years before resigning to join the administration of President Barack Obama, who defeated her for the Democratic nomination.
While Clinton is seen as a popular choice to follow Obama into the White House, her future is still unclear.
The New York Times reported last week that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is entering the final year of his third term in office, had contacted Clinton to urge her to run. The newspaper said Clinton told Bloomberg she was not interested in the job. Bloomberg has denied that such a call was made.
Still, New York's political watchers say there is a hunger among voters to continue the city's tradition of electing larger-than-life executives. Rudolph Giuliani was a mob-busting prosecutor before becoming mayor and his successor, Bloomberg, is a billionaire executive and philanthropist.
The Quinnipiac poll of 368 registered voters in New York City found them nearly evenly divided over whether they would support a Clinton candidacy for mayor. Some 51 percent said she should run, while 46 percent said she should not run, within margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
The telephone survey was conducted from December 5-10.
The likely list of candidates so far includes four Democrats: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, city Comptroller John Liu and William Thompson, who ran unsuccessfully against Bloomberg in the last election.
Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion has said he is likely to run for mayor on the Republican ticket, and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota has told local media outlets he is also mulling a bid.
(Reporting By Edith Honan; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Eric Beech)