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NEW YORK CITY — Former presidential contender Andrew Yang is the clear frontrunner in the 2021 Democratic Mayoral Primary Race, which will be the first major contest to use New York City’s new ranked choice voting system.

Yang is the first choice for 32% of the 1,128 city dwellers surveyed by PIX11, NewsNation and Emerson College. (The margin of error is +/- 2.8%.)

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was the first choice of 19% of voters surveyed; Maya Miley, former counsel to current Mayor Bill de Blasio, is at 9%; New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer is at 6%; former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia is at 5%.

All other candidates received less than 5%.

Yang is being demographically carried by white and Asian voters, who prefer him 50% of the time and 60% of the time respectively. Fifty-six percent of young voters age 18-29 break for Yang.

Adams leads among African American and Hispanic voters, who prefer him 31% of the time and 26% of the time respectively.


New York City’s new ranked choice voting system will be an added wrinkle for the June 22 primary. The system is getting a small test currently, as city election officials sort out a special election in Far Rockaway using a hand and computerized count.

Democratic and Republican voters will be asked to rank up to their top five choices during the primary round. If nobody gets more than 50% of the first choice preferences, the bottom candidate is eliminated and their votes are redistributed. The “instant runoff” process will begin seven days after June 22 to wait for absentee and military ballots to arrive. This video from voting reform group Fair Vote explains the process.

The exclusive PIX11, NewsNation, Emerson College poll found 40% of NYC voters have heard only a little about the new ranked choice system. A third, 33% of voters, have heard nothing about it, while 26% say they have heard a lot.

The problem is more persistent in communities of color: 46% of African American voters report having heard nothing about ranked choice voting, and 32% report having heard a little. Thirty-eight percent of Latinos have heard nothing about ranked choice voting and 44% have heard a little. Compare those numbers to white voters, where only 20% have heard nothing about it.

Adams ranks highest among voters’ second choice candidate, at 11%. Yang is the second choice for 9%, and Stringer is at 8%.  What may be more concerning to election officials and candidates is that 29% of voters indicated that they would not rank any candidate as their second choice at this time. Their votes will be eliminated from the count if their candidate is eliminated during the “instant runoff.”

Despite a troubled history and concerns about the new system, voters are confident that the upcoming mayoral election will be conducted fairly by the Board of Elections: 48% are very confident, 35% are somewhat confident, 12% are not too confident, and 5% are not at all confident in the BOE.


COVID-19 is the top priority among voters, but there are a range of issues registered voters are seriously weighing.  COVID-19 ranked first at 18%; jobs were ranked at 15%; homelessness is at 12%; education is at 11%; housing is at 10%; and healthcare is at 10%.

A majority of voters are not prioritizing picking a woman nor person of color as the next mayor: 62% believe it is not important the next mayor be a person of color, 25% believe it is somewhat important, and 14% believe it is very important.  

Sixty-five percent of those polled said they believe it is not important the next mayor be a woman; 25% believe it is somewhat important the next mayor be a woman; and 10% believe it is very important. New York City has never had a female mayor. 


Vaccine hesitancy does not appear to be an overwhelming problem in New York City, which at one point was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

Of those surveyed, 11% said they already got the vaccine, 54% said they would get it as soon as possible, and another 24% said they would get it. Only 12% said they would not get the vaccine.

Health experts say the three approved COVID-19 vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and effective and you should take the them when it is your turn.


A large portion of New Yorkers, 46%, rate the quality of their public transportation as good, while 26% say it is fair, 16% say it is poor, and 13% say it is excellent.

Partisan ideology appears to have an impact on how people rate the public transportation in their area: 73% of Democrats rate it as good/excellent, as compared to 38% of Republicans. More than half of Independents believe their public transportation is good or excellent. 

Looking at race and ethnicity, Latinos rated public transport the lowest, with 26% reporting public transportation in their area of residence as poor, compared to 18% of Asians, 11% of African Americans and 8% of Whites.