New Yorkers are gearing themselves for the final weeks of an election where everything is yet to be decided, as there is no clear frontrunner merely days before NYC Democrats select their candidate for Mayor for the general election. Andrew Yang, the millennial entrepreneur who made name for himself in the 2020 Democratic Primaries, began the campaign as a clear frontrunner. However, recent polls have shown the race has tightened significantly and the unpredictable NYC mayoral race is still open.
Yang has been the center of many attacks from his competitors, especially at yesterday’s debate, with fellow candidate Eric Adams criticizing him for his decision to leave NYC during the midst of the COVID pandemic, saying that he might “flee again during a difficult time”. Yang has also been criticized for being not Democrat enough, with rival Scott Singer calling him a Republican at the debate stage, and progressive activists sabotaging one of his planned campaign events today.
Yang responded to the attacks landed by Adams, saying that what should be most important for the voters is the fact that the former Brooklyn borough president has been investigated multiple times for corruption, saying that he was investigated even by the Obama Justice Department.
Although the June 22 election will only be a primary since NYC is a reliably Democratic city it is widely expected that whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be the next mayor of the city. The last time someone won the NYC mayor race as a registered Republican was 12 years ago, and that candidate was Michael Bloomberg, who ran for the Democratic nomination last year.
What do the polls say of the unpredictable NYC mayoral race?
The latest set of polls show that the former presidential candidate is tied in a three-way race with Brooklyn Borough Mayor Eric Adams, and former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia (who was endorsed by the New York Times). A poll conducted by Emerson College found that Garcia is leading the pack with 21%, closely followed by Adams with 20% and Yang going in third place with a modest 16%.
However, the situation is murky at best, as different polls have yielded significantly different results. While Commissioner Garcia might be thrilled with the data shown by Emerson, a poll conducted by the Manhattan Institute is not as rosy for her.
The poll, which was conducted to 500 likely Democratic primary voters, has both Andrew Yang and Eric Adams toe-to-toe in the first round of the vote, with Yang earning 22% of the vote and Adams 21%, in this poll, Garcia is in a distant third at 13% of the vote. However, once the pollster starts taking into account the multiple-rank system that will be implemented in the primary, the final tally of the vote goes 52% for Adams and 48% for Yang.
Multiple rank voting is, precisely, one of the factors that make this election so complicated. Instead of voters casting a single vote for mayor, voters will rank the candidates in order of preference. Once the first preferences are counted, the candidates with the lowest vote share will be eliminated and his or her votes will go to the second preferences, this process will be repeated until a candidate reaches more than 50% of the vote.
Another crucial factor in this primary election is the large number of undecided voters, who can tip the balances to any candidate on Election Day. According to the Emerson poll, there are 23% of undecided voters in the race, while the Manhattan Institute calculates that number at 14% of likely Democratic voters. Since the distance between all the mayor candidates is thin, the high number of undecided brings a wild card to the election.
One of the issues that have been under the voters’ radar is the recent spike in crime rates that is occurring across America’s biggest cities, which has forced many cities -including New York- to reverse its policies aimed at reducing funding to their police departments. According to the Manhattan Institute poll, half of the primary voters think that “public safety and crime rates” is one of their top-two issues and less than 20% of those asked want to see a smaller police presence in their community.
As more voters pay attention to safety/crime issues, Adams will have a better chance to exploit his curriculum and paint himself as the man of the hour as he has been working in law enforcement for 22 years. In fact, Adams used his experience as a talking point when attacking Yang at the debate stage, saying that he has “wore a bulletproof vest for 22 years and protected the children and family of this city”.
Yang is betting that his freshness and charisma will carry the day, Adams is hoping that Newyorkers view him as someone in touch with the community, while Garcia is working hard to transform the NYT’s endorsement into votes, some low-key candidates might even benefit from the multiple -tier system of the primary.
The reality is that two weeks from election day, the vote that will determine America’s most famous mayor is still too close to call.