A new poll by the Daily News released yesterday has shown that a majority of New Yorkers strongly approve of the job Raymond Kelly is doing as  Police Commissioner, whilst nearly half of them hope that he runs for mayor next year.

According to the new Daily News poll, which was compiled from 600 participants, Kelly’s job approval rating as Commissioner is 77%, he also has a high 63% favorability rating among city voters, the highest of anyone considering a mayoral run next year the Daily News wrote. The poll found that 46% of voters surveyed said Kelly should run for mayor on the GOP line, whilst 34% don’t want him to run and 20% claimed they aren’t sure.

The poll underlines that a mayoral race would not be easy prospect for Kelly, 70, in a city where Democrats have a 5-to-1 enrollment advantage over Republicans, but it also makes it clear that he has a real shot at winning City Hall.

'He could be a contender,' Doug Schoen, who surveyed 600 likely city voters, told the Daily News. 'He clearly is the last, best hope of the Republican Party at this point.'

More than 80% of city voters view the former Marine as a strong leader, 60% say he is independent and 78% say he’s a good manager. An impressive 87% said they believed he’d do an excellent or good job protecting the city from terrorism.

And though he’s closely tied to Mayor Bloomberg, 68% said Kelly would govern in a different style with a different approach.

'For a person who hasn’t done any campaigning — he’s just been doing his job as commissioner — that is really an extraordinarily positive poll for him,” said state GOP Chairman Ed Cox.

Kelly's numbers aren't all unadulterated good news, however. When it comes to city administration, community relations and civil liberties issues his numbers drop. The poll shows just 51% feel Kelly is in touch with the needs of people in their neighborhood, while half say he is insensitive to civil liberties.

The NYPD under his watch are facing growing criticism for their controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which overwhelmingly targets men of color, and also for their comprehensive surveillance of the Muslim community in the city. These widely discussed concerns may explain why 32% said having Kelly as mayor would hurt race relations in the city, and 41% said it would have no impact.

'It says he would have to demonstrate that he could really reach out and connect with ordinary people, something he's not had to do as police commissioner,' Schoen said. 'That's all soluble and addressable in a campaign should he mount one.'

Kelly's numbers plummet in other key areas. 53% percent said Kelly doesn’t know enough about issues beyond crime and terrorism. 27% feel he is versed enough on issues like education and jobs to be a good mayor. Only about a third of potential voters think Kelly would succeed at creating jobs, compared with 44% who say he would be fair or poor.

Nearly half say he’d be fair or poor at improving the quality of education, with just 32% saying he’d have a positive impact. New Yorkers also have strong concerns about his ability to improve health care, hold the line on taxes and balance the city budget.

'It’s not a slam dunk, but presumably if he spoke about those issues, he could of course be a very serious contender,' Schoen said. Kelly, according to the poll, trails City Council Speaker Christine Quinn by a 49%-to-36% margin, with 15% not sure.

Kelly’s age doesn’t seem to concern voters. Nearly 80% said it would not affect their decision on how to vote, while 17% said it would make them less likely to support him for mayor.

Encouraged by their own soundings the city's top GOP officials are reportedly gearing up for a draft Kelly effort, although Cox said he has no plans to speak with the Commissioner at present. Meanwhile Kelly has told the press he is flattered by all the speculation, but he is not considering a mayoral run at this point. Close observers expect him to change that outlook quickly should he decide he wants to run.

New York City Police Commissioner Ray KellyReuters