That’s an improvement for Rangel from the last Siena College Poll, conducted in May, when he held a 9-point lead.
He’s been locked in the fight of his career to hold onto his seat for one more term. After losing by just 1,000 votes in 2012, Espaillat jumped into this year’s race earlier and was believed to have a better shot at taking Rangel down.
But the new Siena College poll shows a full 30 percent of respondents still say they haven’t heard enough about the candidate to make up their minds on him, even after the state senator launched his second bid.
Espaillat is seen favorably by a plurality, 42 percent, of respondents, while a majority, 56 percent, see Rangel favorably.
And the poll undercuts what Espaillat’s supporters have seen as two of his major advantages: Rangel’s age and long tenure, and Espaillat’s Dominican heritage.
Espaillat's supporters saw an opening for the candidate with the district’s demographics transforming over the decades to slightly majority Hispanic.
But the poll indicates a majority of voters in the district see Rangel’s age as an asset rather than a liability, and almost all — 89 percent — say race makes no difference in who they’d prefer represent their district in Congress.
Espaillat’s team dismissed the polls, arguing it’s difficult to accurately survey the district because of its large Spanish-speaking population. Aides also said the poll undersampled Dominicans and voters from the Bronx, and noted that Espaillat’s own internals showed him winning the race.
Siena College was also in the field before the New York Times backed Espaillat this week, a significant endorsement for the candidate.
“Polls don't capture the strength of our ground game or the passion of our supporters. The 13th district is ready for change the New York Times, El Diario, the NY Observer, dozens of elected officials, community leaders and unions all agree,” said Chelsea Connor, Espaillat’s spokeswoman.
Siena College has had a solid track-record in polling of previous New York races, however, accurately predicting the outcome of the New York City mayoral race, among others.
The survey was conducted among 701 likely Democratic primary voters via both landline and cell phones in both English and Spanish from June 14-18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.