Campaign

Engel trails primary challenger by 10 points: poll

A new poll shows Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) trailing his progressive challenger by 10 points just a week before New York voters pick their nominees, an ominous sign for a longtime incumbent whose district has changed markedly since he was first elected.

The survey, conducted by the progressive group Data for Progress, finds middle school principal Jamaal Bowman (D) leading Engel by a 41 percent to 31 percent margin. Twenty-seven percent of Democratic respondents in New York’s 16th District remain undecided.

The poll shows Bowman building a big lead among women, voters under 45 years old and African Americans, who make up about a third of the residents in Engel’s Bronx-based district. Engel leads by 22 points among white voters, and the two are close to tied among men.

The poll did not test three other Democrats whose names will appear on the ballot — attorney Chris Fink, former New York Police Department officer Sammy Ravelo and Andom Ghebreghiorgis, who has withdrawn and backs Bowman — but none of them are expected to take a significant portion of the vote.

Bowman, making his first run for office, won endorsements from Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and from the rising stars of an emerging generation of progressive members of Congress like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.). Groups like Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party and Brand New Congress back Bowman, while most unions have stuck with Engel.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Congressional Black Caucus both back Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The New York Times editorial board endorsed Bowman.

Engel’s district has changed markedly from the seat he first won in 1988. Back then, just 11 percent of the population was African American, and 13 percent was Hispanic. Today, just under one-third of district residents are white.

But Engel has run a lackluster campaign, even amid signs that progressives were making inroads in New York districts where longtime incumbents were sitting on their laurels.

Two years ago, Ocasio-Cortez, an unknown progressive challenger, ousted another New York Democrat, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley (D). This year, Reps. Nita Lowey (D) and José Serrano (D) both retired in the face of almost certain primary challenges, while other longtime New York City representatives like Carolyn Maloney (D) and Jerrold Nadler (D) have mounted aggressive campaigns.

The poll, conducted June 11-15, surveyed 525 likely Democratic primary voters contacted online and by text message. The survey had a margin of error of 5.1 percentage points.

–This report was updated at 11:53 a.m.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Bernie Sanders Carolyn Maloney data for progress Eliot Engel Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Jamaal Bowman Jerry Nadler Joe Crowley Jose Serrano New York 16th congressional district primary Nita Lowey

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