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Poll: Rangel ahead by double digits heading into primary

Rep. Charles Rangel is leading by double digits going into his primary election for New York's 13th District.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   June 23, 2014 at 7:04 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, June 23 (UPI) -- Charles Rangel might just pull it out.

Facing the same foe who nearly took him down in 2012, abandonment by party heavyweights, and dramatically shifting demographics in his district, the 22-term Democrat is holding onto a lead in polls on the eve of his primary election.

Rangel, who was first elected to his district in Harlem, New York, holds a 47 percent to 34 percent advantage over Adriano Espaillat in a NY1/Siena College Poll released Friday. Seven percent said they were backing Michael Walrond, and another 4 percent chose Yolanda Garcia, with 8 percent undecided.

While only 66 percent of the poll's respondents said they were certain of their choice (and another 22 percent said they were "fairly certain"), Rangel holds a 14-point advantage over Espaillat in favorability ratings, with 56 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of the congressman, and 30 percent holding an unfavorable opinion.

And though Espaillat has decent favorability ratings -- 42 percent to 25 percent -- a full 30 percent of respondents said they hadn't heard enough about him to make a determination, a poor sign just a few days before the election.

Earlier in the race, Rangel, 84, looked to be in true danger of losing the seat he has held for more than four decades. Rangel was dogged by memories of the ethics complaint that cost him his chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in 2010. President Obama refused to endorse him, as he did in both 2010 and 2012, although Rangel did get a last-minute nod from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

But the district Rangel represents -- now the New York 13th; through redistricting, it's also been the 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th -- has grown to include a number of Dominican neighborhoods in Washington Heights and Inwood, and is majority Hispanic for the first time.

That's an advantage to the Dominican Espaillat, so both candidates have turned to the predominately white neighborhoods in the Bronx, the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights, where gentrification has turned Harlem from a center of black politics to a decidedly more mixed locale.

According to the NY1/Siena College poll, Rangel holds a slimmer, but not insignificant advantage among whites, 43 percent to 38 percent. And while he carries more then three-quarters of the black vote, he still grabs 29 percent of the Hispanic vote, to Espaillat's 53 percent.

But as in any primary, turnout will be key. If Espaillat's enthusiastic get-out-the-vote effort pays off, Tuesday could see yet another toppling of a congressional institution.

Follow @gabbilevy and @UPI on Twitter.
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