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Still feeling ¯\_(ツ)_/¯: 23% of New Yorkers undecided in latest poll on wide-open mayor’s race

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
Photo by Dean Moses

Democrats in heavily-blue New York City are potentially selecting the city’s next mayor in a primary just six weeks away. But the latest poll on the race suggests that nearly a quarter of all voters have no idea who to vote for — and the contest itself remains wide open.

The Emerson College/PIX11 News poll found that not one of the 13 Democrats running for mayor had support greater than 20%. An astonishing 23% of all those surveyed said they were undecided on their choice in the June 22 primary.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leads the entire field with 18%, followed by City Comptroller Scott Stringer and entrepreneur Andrew Yang — each of whom polled at 15%. That marks a stunning reversal from a Siena College/NY1 poll released in April which found Yang on top with 24% of voters, followed by Adams and Stringer, both of whom polled at 13%. The poll had 26% of voters either undecided or unaffiliated.

Courtesy Emerson College

The Emerson/PIX11 poll quizzed 631 Democrats between May 13-15, two weeks after a former Stringer intern, Jean Kim, came forward with allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward her back in 2001 — something which the comptroller vehemently denied. Nevertheless, it cost him the support of numerous high-profile progressives

If anything, the poll found that the scandal did little to dent Stringer’s support among New Yorkers; his support actually grew from 6% in an Emerson/PIX11 poll conducted in March to 15% in May.

Approximately 28% of respondents said they didn’t hear enough about the claims made against Stringer, while 28% suggested they weren’t credible. Only 18% of those polled believed Kim’s allegations were credible; 27% said they were unsure. 

Former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia checked in fourth in the primary poll at 8%, while nonprofit executive Dianne Morales — who benefitted from some progressives who defected from Stringer — garnered just 6%. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan had 5%, while former Citicorp executive Ray McGuire and civil rights attorney Maya Wiley each garnered 4%. 

Business entrepreneurs Art Chang and Joycelyn Taylor checked in at 2% and 1%, respectively.

The Emerson/PIX11 poll also went deeper in assessing how the contest — which will be done through ranked-choice voting for the first time in the city’s history — would play out when votes are counted. Poll participants were asked to rate their top three choices in the contest; the pollsters then simulated how the vote count might shake out as the votes are counted in rounds, and the candidate with the least support eliminated after each round.

The poll projects that it may take up to nine rounds of vote counting before a candidate emerges with the required 50% plus 1 vote majority of support. At the end of the Emerson/PIX 11 simulation, Adams was the last candidate standing, projected to win the nomination with 52.6% over Yang, who garnered 47.4%. 

The round-by-round ranked choice voting simulation for the 2021 NYC mayor’s race, through a poll conducted by Emerson College and PIX11 News.Courtesy Emerson College

Regarding the issues most important to the voters, the Emerson/PIX 11 poll found that homelessness led the way, with 20% of respondents ranking it as the top priority for the next mayor. That was followed by housing (19%), jobs (12%), healthcare (11%) and education/schools (10%). 

Interestingly, police reform — a major topic in city and national politics since the George Floyd murder last May — ranked as the top issue among only 9% of those surveyed. The poll also found that 53% of all respondents had a positive view of the NYPD, but Emerson/PIX11 pointed out that “metric varies largely by race”; a combined 61% of white voters and 61% of Latino voters had a positive view of the NYPD, while 33% of Black voters viewed the department favorably.

A vast majority of all respondents also expressed concern over safety in the city’s subways — which has led to sparring between the MTA and Mayor Bill de Blasio amid a rash of recent crime in the transit system. Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed said they were “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about whether they or someone they love would become a victim of crime in the subway system.

The poll, which was conducted through a cellphone sample of SMS-to-web data and an online panel, has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

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