Reporter’s notebook: No one’s winning the NYC mayor’s race. Yet.

Mayoral Candidate Andrew Yang.
Photo by Mark Hallum

The headlines from major print and TV outlets blared Monday morning that entrepreneur Andrew Yang had built a sizable “lead” among fellow Democrats in the latest primary polls for mayor, just nine weeks away from the election.

But can anyone seriously claim that a candidate is winning a race when more than a quarter of polled voters have said that they either don’t know who they’re voting for, or won’t disclose the candidate of their choice?

Sure, Yang is ahead in the race. But this race is far from over — and it’s as wide open as it gets.

The Siena College/AARP poll, in my view, provided the best insight into the incredible uncertainty of this contest. 

Overall, among polled registered Democrats, Yang had 24% of the support — but 26% were either undecided or undeclared. He’s 11 points ahead of two other heavyweights in the race in Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Comptroller Scott Stringer — but is trailing undecided/undeclared by two points.

The real uncertainty in the race comes from the outer boroughs, according to the poll. In Queens, 27% of voters said they were undecided/undeclared; Yang has 25% of the rest of the voters. 

Staten Island, while not a Democratic stronghold, has plenty of registered Democrats there — and most of those polled, 39%, said they don’t know, or refused to say who they’re voting for. Like Queens, Yang has the backing of a quarter of Staten Island voters polled.

The Bronx is a real question mark. A staggering 41% of voters polled there were undecided/undeclared. The good news for Yang there is he’s leading big among the rest of the candidates, with 24%; the next closest rival, Stringer, has 9%. Even so, Yang is behind undecided/undeclared by a full 17 points.

Every campaign, by now, must be scrambling to get the outer borough vote out over the nine weeks leading up to the June 22 primary. If the Siena/AARP poll is any indication, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island are loaded with Democrats who haven’t yet made up their minds, and whichever candidate makes the best sales pitch to them will not just win their hearts, but also the race.

It’s wise to put things in perspective here when it comes to polls. They’ve been wrong before, as we’ve seen on the national stage. One only needs to look back to the 2016 election, when it seemed Hillary Clinton was assured the presidency — and the polls in swing states that put her narrowly ahead of Donald Trump were proven wrong in the election.

Turn the clock back even further in time, to 1948 and the infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline, the biggest editorial blunder in journalism history. The pollsters had written off Harry Truman in favor of Thomas Dewey, but Truman won the only poll that mattered in the end.

Whether the pollsters are right about the New York City mayoral race is yet to be seen. But it’s safe to say, judging by the numbers, that no one has won anything yet.

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