Voters head to the polls for primary elections

Cyril Josh Barker | 9/13/2018, 10:54 a.m.
As New Yorkers head to the polls for the upcoming Primary Elections Sept. 13, when it comes to issues and ...
Polling station voters sign Nia Sanders

As New Yorkers head to the polls for the upcoming Primary Elections Sept. 13, when it comes to issues and which candidates matter, poll numbers give an overwhelming snapshot as to where voters are.

Candidates recently made one of their final outreach efforts to Black voters during the West Indian Day Parade on Labor Day. Candidates at all levels rode floats, waved flags and danced to Caribbean music in an attempt to connect with citizens in this last-ditch effort.

When it comes to the issues, polls indicate that economy, health care and government corruption will be on the minds of voters when they cast their ballot.

“You'll be hard pressed to find New Yorkers who don't think government corruption is a problem in New York State. A combined 85 percent consider it a 'very serious' or 'somewhat serious' problem. Yet, it's not the defining issue in the race," said Mary Snow, polling analyst for the Quinnipiac University Poll.

According to a Siena College poll taken last month, issues that matter most to Black voters include finances and health.

Black voters are also looking for candidates who will fight for them from the tentacles of the Donald Trump administration in Washington. A recent poll by ABC News and The Washington Post revealed that while Trump’s disapproval rating is at an all-time high, 93 percent of Blacks disapprove of Trump and 80 percent support impeachment.

One of the most contentious races is who will be the state Democratic nominee for governor between incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo and actress and activist Cynthia Nixon. Poll numbers between the two show that Cuomo has a consistent lead over Nixon, averaging 60 percent.

Last month, voters got to see Cuomo and Nixon go head to head in a debate at Hofstra University. The contentious debate covered a wide range of issues including the MTA, affordable housing, immigration and criminal justice.

In July, a Quinnipiac University poll found that 73 percent of Black voters back Cuomo.

“New Yorkers say 59-30 percent they want a gubernatorial candidate with experience in politics over someone new to it. Democrats, nonwhite voters and women, in particular, lead the charge in that preference," said Snow.

The reason why Cuomo is getting a leg up, Snow added, is because most voters are not sure what his rivals are doing. Most voters have not heard enough from Nixon to really form an opinion.

Even though polls show that both Democratic candidates running for lieutenant governor, incumbent Kathy Hochul and Brooklyn City Council Member Jumaane Williams, are unknown among voters, poll numbers reveal that half of Democrats are undecided. Hochul still has a nine-point lead on Williams but it’s still anybody’s race.

“Both candidates are essentially unknown to between two-thirds and three-quarters of likely Democratic primary voters. Half of those voters couldn’t tell you who they’ll support for the second spot on the top of the ticket,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said. “With a lead of only 30-21 percent, Hochul is far from a shoe-in to win renomination as Lieutenant Governor.”

In the attorney general’s race, polls point to Public Advocate Letitia James for a victory as she has the support of 25 percent of likely voters against her rivals Leecia Eve, Congressman Sean Maloney and law professor Zephyr Teachout. A Siena College poll indicates that James has gained momentum from nonwhite voters and women.

All four candidates came together again Wednesday at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network House of Justice in Harlem for a forum. The four previously participated in a televised debate on NY1 at John Jay College.

“James has solid constituencies among New York City, younger, Black and Latino voters. White voters are closely divided among Maloney, Teachout and James,” Greenberg said. “Older voters give James a small edge lead over Maloney. James and Teachout virtually tie for the lead with liberals.”