Adams Jumps Ahead In NYC Mayoral Race As ‘Defund The Police’ Issue Proves Negative, Poll Shows


Unseating previous frontrunner Andrew Yang, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams jumped into the lead in the New York City mayoral race in a poll released Monday morning which revealed voter enthusiasm for candidates rejecting the progressive “defund the police” movement in their proposals for combatting rising crime. 

Key Facts

Adams, a former New York Police Department captain and long-time local politician, earned 22% of the vote and a six-point lead over Yang in the NY1/IPSOS survey of nearly a 1,000 Democratic voters. 

This comes after he trailed Yang, an entrepreneur with a significant following from his failed 2020 presidential run, by 9% in April’s poll.

The only candidate with a bigger jump than Adams was former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia who—following high-profile endorsements from The New York Times and New York Daily News—gained 11 points since April to command 15% of the vote. 

Former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio Maya Wiley, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and non-profit executive Dianne Morales, who have all been competing to be the race’s left-wing leader, each earned 10% of the vote or less. 

Meanwhile, Citigroup executive Ray McGuire and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shuan Donovan emerged as the least popular candidates, polling at 4% and 3%, respectively.   

Big Number

16%. That’s the portion of likely voters who said they remain undecided, a 10% decrease from the April poll.

Key Background 

Yang, who has by far the most name recognition on a national scale, started off the race as a clear frontrunner, consistently leading in polls. However, more exposure to the candidates—through debate and in-person rallies—appears to have turned public opinion toward Adams, who quickly closed in on Yang’s lead. Both candidates have diverged from the field’s more progressive figures on the topic of public safety, a key issue amid an ongoing upswing in violent crime (shootings were up 77% in March 2021 from last year). Yang and Adams have both advocated to expand the size of the New York Police Department, which was targeted with a $1 billion budget cut amid Black Lives Matter protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, though Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget for fiscal 2022 actually allocates more funds to police. Meanwhile, Garcia has also said she doesn’t support “defund the police” and has instead called to increase the size of the NYPD Gun Violence Suppression Division to tackle the increase in shootings. All three have called for various reforms to the department, including hiring more people of color (Yang), setting a minimum age for officers (Garcia) and appointing the first female police commissioner (Adams). 

Surprising Fact

Calls to “defund the police,” or redistribute police funds, have proven largely unpopular on a national scale, with some Democrats blaming support for the movement for losses in the House. A March USA TODAY/Ipsos poll found fewer than 1 in 5 Americans now support “defund the police.” 

Further Reading 

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Endorses Maya Wiley For NYC Mayor” (Forbes)

“New York Newspapers Swerve Frontrunner Andrew Yang In Mayoral Endorsements” (Forbes)

“Crime and Qualifications at Issue in Heated N.Y.C. Mayoral Debate” (The New York Times) 

“How Ranked-Choice Voting Could Affect New York’s Mayoral Race” (The New York Times)

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