Fontas/CODA Poll Three - May 26 2021

New Poll Finds Eric Adams Firmly in the Lead and Kathryn Garcia Rapidly Gaining in the Final Weeks Ahead of the June 22 Democratic Primary
May 26, 2021

Pulse of the Primary: 2021 NYC Mayor’s Race, presented by Fontas Advisors and Core Decision Analytics (CODA), released its third and final set of poll results on May 26th. The last in a series of three quantitative voter surveys, this latest iteration of the Fontas/CODA poll closely examines the fiercely competitive horserace in the closing weeks of the campaign. The telephone poll of N=800 NYC Democratic primary likely voters was conducted from May 15-19, following the first televised debate as all the candidates aggressively campaign in advance of the June 22 election.


“At a time of great uncertainty and great challenges across the five boroughs, New York City voters are coalescing around the more ideologically moderate candidates in the race for mayor,” said George Fontas, Founder and CEO of Fontas Advisors, a leading NYC-based government affairs consultancy. “Our poll shows Eric Adams and Kathryn Garcia both have strong momentum as we enter the final stretch.

“In a sharp contrast to all our prior surveys, a majority of New York City voters are now aware of each of the major candidates running in the Democrat primary,” said Adam Rosenblatt, President of Core Decision Analytics (CODA), a non-partisan national public opinion research and analytics firm based in Washington, DC. “With the campaigns now in full swing, the impact of paid media and earned media has significantly boosted certain candidates and has altered the state of the race.” 

NYC voters now more informed about ranked choice voting

This third Fontas/CODA Pulse of the Primary poll, conducted nearly one-month prior to the primary, found that voter attention regarding the election has significantly increased. 72% have heard, read, or seen recently about ranked choice voting (a lot + some + just a little). This is a major increase compared to March, where only 57% said the same.

Voters increasingly familiar with the major candidate

Beyond rising awareness of ranked choice, familiarity with the mayoral candidates has also increased. Similar to March, three of the eight candidates remain better known among NYC voters:

  • 89% are familiar with Andrew Yang (+4 compared to 85% in March)
  • 77% are familiar with Scott Stringer (+13 compared to 64% in March)
  • 75% are familiar with Eric Adams (+13 compared to 62% in March)

Compared to the March Fontas/CODA poll, the most noticeable awareness gains (“have you heard of…”) have been realized by Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Dianne Morales, and Shaun Donovan.

  • +26 for Kathryn Garcia (55% familiar in May, compared to 29% in March)
  • +24 for Ray McGuire (62% familiar in May, compared to 38% in March)
  • +24 for Dianne Morales (51% familiar in May, compared to 27% in March)
  • +21 for Shaun Donovan (65% familiar in May, +21 compared to 44% in March)
State of the Race

With the election less than a month away, the third and final Fontas/CODA poll closely assessed the current state of the mayor’s race for mayor. Key findings include:

Eric Adams has solidified his spot in the top tier – if not the top spot: Nearly one in five voters (18%) say they would pick Eric Adams if the election were held today. Adams’ standing is 5 percentage points higher than his next closest competitor. Eric Adams’ 18% represents both 13% who say they would “definitely” or “probably” vote for him as first choice plus an additional 5% attained from those who say they are undecided but “lean towards” Adams. Of those who say “definitely” or “probably”, Adams gained +3 percentage points since the last Fontas/CODA poll (13% in May vs. 10% in March).

Kathryn Garcia has surged into the top tier and stands tied with Andrew Yang. Yang and Garcia are statistically tied: 13% of voters say they would choose Andrew Yang (8% “definitely” or “probably” + 5% “lean towards”) while 11% say they would choose Kathryn Garcia (8% “definitely” or “probably” + 3% “lean towards”). In terms of those who say “definitely” or “probably”, Garcia’s support has quadrupled: 8% in May compared to 2% in March. By contrast, the percentage who say “definitely” or “probably” Yang has eroded from 16% in March to 8% in May.

A significant percentage of the electorate remains uncommitted, though many “leaners”: When presented with the eight candidates, half of voters pick a first choice, though half (50%) state they are “undecided” – a finding similar to the March Fontas/CODA poll. For that reason, the May Fontas/CODA poll included a follow-up question asked of undecided voters: “...which candidate – if any – do you lean towards?” 49% of the “undecideds” in fact lean towards a particular candidate, while 51% indicated no preference (in other words, “true undecided”). Taken as a whole, this means the “true undecideds” is closer to 26% of the total electorate.

“The importance of ranked choice cannot be understated since none of the candidates appear anywhere near a 50% majority necessary to win outright,” said Rosenblatt. “Our polling shows that awareness of ranked choice voting has steadily increased, though the biggest open question is not the simple one about who they might rank – but rather, whether they rank at all and if so, how many.”

“Look for top tier candidates to try and form alliances with other candidates as a strategy to strengthen their lead and secure a high ranking on as many ballots as possible” said Fontas. "In a race this close, an endorsement from a rival campaign may in fact be the deciding factor of who wins this election."

Pulse of the Primary: 2021 NYC Mayor’s Race is a three-part series of poll results and analysis leading up to the June 22nd Democratic primary. Subscribe here to receive our updates.


On behalf of Fontas Advisors, Core Decision Analytics (CODA) conducted N=800 live telephone interviews (landline and cell) among New York City Democratic primary likely voters from May 15-19, 2021. The overall margin of error is +/-3.46% at the 95% confidence interval. Tracked findings referenced reflect prior Fontas/CODA Pulse of the Primary studies among NYC Democratic primary likely voters conducted in March (N=800 telephone interviews, fielded Mar 15-18) and January (N=842 online interviews, fielded Jan 20-25). The May poll report containing all survey questions, screening criteria, and demographics, is available here and the complete crosstabs are available here.

View Key Findings Presentation here.