Five things to watch in the New York mayoral race

By Tal Axelrod

New York City races toward its mayoral race as large numbers of Democrats and some Republicans compete before the June 22 primary.

The final winner of the mayoral race will take over a city in crisis that is grappling with high levels of coronavirus infections, the economic fallout of the pandemic, rising crime and other problems.

The race has already brought together a variety of candidates with a variety of experiences seeking to replace the mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioCuomo Faces Increasing Scrutiny Over COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths New York State Warns Hospitals To Vaccinate Staff Before The Elderly: Report States Are Failing Big Tech And Privacy : Biden must take the initiative MORE (D), whose oversight of the pandemic has been widely criticized. You are prohibited from running for the third consecutive term.

Among the Democratic candidates running to secure a place in the November 2 general election are the former presidential candidate. Andrew YangAndrew YangYang Meets Donation Requirements to Raise City Funding in New York Mayor Race Poll Finds Yang Big Lead in New York Mayor Race The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Democrats chart path to pass Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan MORE, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and former attorney for de Blasio Maya Wiley.

Here are five things to keep in mind as the race progresses.

How is the coronavirus
impacting the race?

The mayoral race seems unlike any other New York City it has had in recent history. Retail politics has long been the staple of campaigns in the city’s five boroughs, and candidates often look upbeat voters outside of stores, on street corners, and at local events to gain recognition and support. .

However, that has been drastically reduced during the coronavirus pandemic, a change that was underscored when Yang announced earlier this month that he tested positive for the virus and would be canceling his activities in person.

“They can’t do what they’ve always done,” said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf.

“New York is a place where people campaign, go to the subway, stand outside the bus lines, to restaurants. It’s a very open-air environment where people are much more engaged with candidates in a very personal way. And part of the decision making that goes into deciding who is mayor is seeing who is in more physical pain by waking up earlier in the morning, coming in later at night and being seen at more stops. ”

The coronavirus could also affect voter turnout, given the severity of the pandemic that has hit the area.

Local elections in the city have historically been plagued with low voter turnout, with turnout sometimes not even reaching 20 percent.

But observers suggest that the severity of the pandemic, plus an extended early voting period, could reset that political calculus.

“The hardest thing to do is get someone who doesn’t normally run in local primaries to start worrying or thinking that their vote is important, and I think that’s the most important factor. Will COVID be serious enough to drive a much larger group of New Yorkers to the polls? asked Kathryn Wylde, who heads the Association for the City of New York.

What change do people expect from De Blasio?

De Blasio’s management in the city has been widely criticized in recent years, and that criticism has only increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

His approval rating is below 50 percent, according to an October poll. One Democrat who ran in 2020 even used de Blasio as a contrast, even calling him the “worst mayor in the history of New York City.”

“Public opinion data says that Bill de Blasio would be hard-pressed to win even a significant chunk of the city’s electorate if he were allowed to run again,” Sheinkopf said.

Wylde said voters are primarily looking for a candidate who can come up with the kind of clear plan to tackle the pandemic that de Blasio has had trouble articulating.

“Political pronouncements just don’t solve problems, and I think people have seen it in this dire situation when we have a different solution every day depending on the political winds of the moment,” he said.

Will Yang be able to maintain his initial leadership status?

Yang, who rose to national prominence during his surprisingly strong presidential campaign, is one of the first favorites in the Democratic primary, and a poll earlier this month showed him with a huge advantage over his competitors.

He is by far the best-known candidate in the race, with 84 percent of those surveyed saying they have heard of him. Stringer is the second best known candidate, with 66 percent name recognition.

Now comes the hard part for Yang: maintaining that leader status.

While the entrepreneur maintains an expansive social media presence and fiercely loyal following, he has walked out the door with early mistakes. Among other things, he sought answers about why he was living in his suburban home during the pandemic and why he did not vote in the 2000 and 2012 presidential elections or all of the mayoral elections in New York City between 2001 and 2017.

Beyond those missteps, Yang also lacks experience in government at a time when voters can seek a steady hand in pulling them out of the pandemic.

“I think it will be very difficult for those who do not have a public service background and intimate knowledge of the city to convince voters that they are the manager the city needs. So I think there is a built-in advantage for those who have been in government, who people know prior to the pandemic and in their community setting, not just because of an appearance of zoom, “Wylde said.

Voters’ familiarity with other candidates is also likely to increase as more campaign ads air.

“Andrew Yang’s name recognition advantage disappears overnight when the air war begins,” said Eric Phillips, a former spokesman for Blasio. “Can you continue to lead a race when the voters meet the other candidates? I am skeptical. ”

What role will ranked voting play in the primaries?

New York City is using ranked-choice voting in mayoral primaries for the first time this year. That means that if no candidate gets 50 percent or more of the votes in the first round, subsequent selections are taken into account until a contender with the most votes emerges.

That could result in fewer negative attacks for fear of alienating another candidate’s supporters and even leading to unusual alliances.

“People will make deals to figure out how they support each other to get to first and second place,” Sheinkopf said.

The most established candidates in city politics can benefit from the new system.

“I think ranking voting suggests that candidates who are most familiar with their experience in grassroots New York City politics will benefit from a situation where people can say, ‘Well, this candidate, I saw his ad and they really appealed to me so I’m going to put them first, but I think it’s a safe bet to vote for another candidate who has a long-term record in public service and who I know has never done anything scandalous, he’s a very decent human, whatever, ‘”Wylde said.

Does a Republican have a chance in the general election?

The short answer is: barely, if at all.

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 7 to 1 in the city, and their blue hue deepened during the Trump administration. Outside of Staten Island, Republican victories in the city have been increasingly rare.

Wylde said a Republican would have no chance “unless there is a momentous event.” When asked to clarify, he said that only an event of the same magnitude as the 9/11 terror attacks could shake the race enough to give a Republican a real shot.

Sheinkopf put it more bluntly: “A Republican running should save his money and buy a house.”


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