The first formal poll of the Brooklyn Borough President’s race shows Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Robert Cornegy Jr. on top in a tight race where several candidates polled within the margin of error and half of surveyed voters remain undecided.
The poll, conducted by Benenson Strategy Group on behalf of StudentsFirstNY, a pro-charter school group, surveyed 1,558 likely Democratic primary voters in New York City last month; 33% of those, or 514, were from Brooklyn.
Reynoso and Cornegy each garnered 10% of respondents’ first choice votes. Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon came next with 8%, followed by former Brookdale Hospital executive Khari Edwards and minister Kimberly Council with 7% each. Council Member Mathieu Eugene garnered 6%, while a whopping 50% said they did not know who they were voting for.
A simulation of ranked-choice voting, meanwhile, found Reynoso coming out on top after five rounds.
With a small sample size and a margin of error of +/-2.48%, the poll is by no means a definitive prediction of the race to replace current Borough President Eric Adams, who is now running for mayor; the competition is still open, at least for the top candidates candidates in this 14-person contest. Less than two months remain until the June 22nd Democratic primary.
Nevertheless, initial reactions from candidates to the poll indicate that some candidates were happier with the results than others.
“It’s about building the broadest possible coalition, and when people get eliminated in the ranked choice vote, you see I’m a lot of people’s second and third choice,” Reynoso told Bklyner. “So I do feel good about it.”
Reynoso also pointed out that his campaign has spent about $119,000 to date, less than half of Cornegy’s nearly $400,000 in spending, and that he has about $130,000 more in cash on hand (though both candidates trail Simon by that measure).
“I spent less money to be in first place,” Reynoso said. “That $130,000 is the difference between several weeks of TV ads or several mailers to the public, so that’ll let me get my name out to the folks that haven’t made a decision yet.”
Another positive sign for Reynoso: in this poll commissioned by a pro-charter school group, the charter-school skeptic polled equal to or better than Cornegy, despite Cornegy’s vocal support of charter school expansion.
A statement from Cornegy’s campaign manager provided to Bklyner, meanwhile, did not address the specific poll results, instead stating only that “the more the people of Brooklyn learn about Rob’s values and vision, the more voters across the borough are enthusiastically rallying around our campaign ahead of the June 22nd primaries.”
Cornegy is “running for Brooklyn Borough President to create jobs and fair economic growth in every neighborhood; expand affordable housing; and keep our communities safe from crime while also making real police reform,” said campaign manager Sam Pierre. “Rob Cornegy is fighting to bring Brooklyn back even stronger than before the pandemic.”
A spokesperson for Simon’s campaign called Simon”a front runner” and said “voters resonate with her strong legislative record and lifelong advocacy for marginalized New Yorkers.”
The spokesperson, Anne Strahle, pointed out that Simon officially entered the race in October 2020, nearly a year after Reynoso and Cornegy, and said she was “making strong headway and has recently taken the lead both in overall fundraising and support from local Brooklyn contributors; with half the voters still undecided, this poll shows that the race is hers to win.”
In the most recent campaign financial disclosure financing period, Simon’s campaign received donations from 747 individual contributors in Brooklyn, significantly more than second-place Reynoso, who received donations from 455 Brooklynites at that time. Still Reynoso leads in the number of Brooklyn contributors overall. Both he and Simon are well ahead of the pack by that measure.
Edwards’ campaign also noted the high percentage of undecided voters, said in a press release that their candidate is “polling competitively with every elected official in the race.”
“Voters are not sold on having a career politician be their next Borough President,” Edwards said, “which is why our campaign continues to gain momentum, is highly competitive on fundraising, and has earned a groundswell of support from labor and community leaders,” citing support from unions like DC37 and DC9, and Brooklyn lawmakers like State Senator Kevin Parker, Assembly Member Nick Perry and Council Member Alicka Ampry Samuel.
A spokesperson for Council said the poll showed her as “a frontrunner within the margin of error of victory, especially in the context of Ranked Choice Voting.”
“Brooklynites are excited by her vision to turn Borough Hall into a one-stop shop to access government and nonprofit services,” the spokesperson, Jordan Jayson, said. “For everything from starting a small business and navigating the public school system to purchasing your first home and connecting with mutual aid organizations.”
Eugene’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Other notable findings from the StudentsFirstNY poll: in the mayor’s race, Andrew Yang still leads the pack, but Adams may be closing the gap. When respondents citywide were asked to rank their choices, Yang had 26% support to Adams’ 20% in the first round, a smaller gap than in previous polls. City Comptroller Scott Stringer came third with 12% of the vote, though the poll was conducted before his candidacy was thrown into disarray by a sexual assault allegation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the poll also found broad support for charter schools, whose leadership have often clashed with Mayor Bill de Blasio and the United Federation of Teachers union.
The poll described charter schools as “independently managed public schools that are open to all students, with no tuition or admissions tests” that “have flexibility to set their own curriculum and are supervised by city and state authorities to hold them accountable.”
Those polled reported favorable opinions of charter schools by a margin of 65% to 33%. Eight of 10 said they believed charter schools are “mostly good for their students,” while only 16% had a negative view, with charter support higher among Black and Latino primary voters.
[5/4/21 – This story has been updated to include statement from Simon’s and Edwards’ campaigns.]