Andrew Yang Ran One of the Most Disastrous Campaigns Ever

Andrew Yang has conceded that he will not be New York City's next mayor after his poor showing in the first results from Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Although the outcome of the primary may not be finalized until the week of July 12, Yang received just 11.7 percent of first-choice votes, according to unofficial figures released by the city's Board of Elections on Tuesday night.

The primaries used ranked-choice voting for the first time this year, allowing voters to rank their top five choices. The counting of ballots will proceed in rounds until one candidate reaches 50 percent.

Yang—a presidential candidate in 2020—was initially the frontrunner for the Democratic primary but his mayoral campaign was dogged by controversies. His comments about Israel, Asian Americans, mental illness and the police drew widespread criticism.

He lost his initial lead and finished fourth in recent polls.

Those polls appear to have been reflected in Tuesday's votes as Yang placed fourth. Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president, was first with 31.7 percent, followed by Maya Wiley, former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, on 22.3 percent and Kathryn Garcia, former commissioner of the city's Department of Sanitation, on 19.5 percent.

A PIX11/Emerson College poll from early March showed Yang on 32 percent and Adams trailing with 19 percent, but by May Adams had jumped ahead.

A Spectrum News NY1/IPSOS survey conducted from May 17 to 31 gave Adams 22 percent of first-choice votes to Yang's 16 percent. Yang's support slipped further in later polls, with a New York Post poll taken between June 10 and 15 showing him on just 9.6 percent.

After Yang conceded, many social media users argued that he had squandered his frontrunner status. Some attributed Yang's decline to his use of Twitter and pointed to the fact that Adams was leading the field despite having a significantly smaller social media presence.

"Eric Adams has less than 2% of Andrew Yang's Twitter followers and is on track to win more than twice as many votes in NYC," tweeted Dave Wasserman, U.S. House editor for the Cook Political Report.

Yang announced he was running for mayor on January 13 but was criticized for a number of statements online and in debates.

Eric Adams has less than 2% of Andrew Yang’s Twitter followers and is on track to win more than twice as many votes in NYC. Lol

— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) June 23, 2021

Yang faced backlash from some in the Asian American community over an op-ed he wrote for The Washington Post on April 1 in which he called on Asian Americans to "embrace and show our American-ness in ways we never have before."

On Tuesday, writer and lawyer Jill Filipovic highlighted a tweet Yang sent on National Pets Day in April about a dog he no longer owned.

"Something I think about every day: When Andrew Yang celebrated National Pets Day by tweeting a picture of an adorable puppy and adding something like 'this was my dog but we gave him away, miss ya buddy!'" Filipovic wrote.

In May, Yang was criticized by some on the left after he posted a tweet expressing support for Israel amid an upsurge violence in the Gaza Strip. Several prominent Republicans praised Yang's tweet, including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Yang later issued a statement saying he had spoken with campaign volunteers who had been upset by his tweet and said: "I mourn for every Palestinian life taken before its time, as I do for every Israeli."

He also caused controversy with comments about people with mental illnesses during the final Democratic debate. He appeared to imply that people with mental illness weren't "us," although he later sought to clarify his remarks and said he was "an advocate for mental health."

Stephen Cohen, a professor in the practice of public affairs at Columbia University, pointed to the difficulties of polling when a race has a large number of candidates.

"I think the early polls that indicated Yang was leading were mostly a function of his high name recognition coming off the presidential race," Cohen told Newsweek.

"The other candidates were less well known, but after campaigning and lots of TV ads, Yang's initial advantage evaporated. I believe that the [New York] Times and Daily News endorsement of Garcia also hurt him as she effectively competed for more moderate voters and voters looking for a non-politician. Garcia and Yang appealed to similar voters."

Thomas Gift, founding director of University College London's Centre on U.S. Politics, told Newsweek that Yang's campaign was similar to his presidential run.

"The same attribute that launched him to 15 minutes of fame in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries is the same attribute that ultimately led to his demise in the 2021 NYC Democratic mayoral primary: his wonky, often heterodox, positions on a number of policy issues that don't fit neatly within the DNC mold," Gift said.

"Yang has a clear progressive streak, but he's also been more than willing to criticize the left on issues where he thinks the party is out of touch, and he also hasn't shied away from offering controversial answers to policy questions ranging from police funding to homelessness."

During the first mayoral debate on May 13, Yang said: "Defund the police is the wrong approach for New York City." By contrast, Wiley said she would "take a billion dollars" from the NYPD and use it to "create trauma-informed care in our schools."

Gift said: "The lesson is that, in 2021, being a policy maverick doesn't seem to be the recipe for winning over voters in an overwhelmingly liberal city. It's basically a case of Democratic constituents getting to know Yang better—and not buying what he's selling."

Newsweek has asked the Andrew Yang campaign for comment.

Andrew Yang Appears at a Press Conference
Andrew Yang pumps his fist during a press conference on June 21 in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City. Yang has conceded the mayoral race following the release of initial results on Tuesday. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images