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Political Neophyte Trounces Adams and Cuomo in New Poll Ahead of 2025 Election

One important name has gone unmentioned in recent polls—until Hell Gate stepped into the arena.

3:49 PM EST on January 5, 2024

A triptych of Mayor Adams, former Governor Cuomo, and Flaco the owl.

Three prominent New Yorkers were named in Hell Gate’s exclusive poll (Image credits from left: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office, Governor’s Office, and Terry Ballard/Flickr)

New Yorkers wrapped up 2023 with some grim news: Reports indicated that ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo was possibly eyeing a mayoral run, as Mayor Eric Adams's approval ratings continued to sink to new lows.

One poll, possibly commissioned by Cuomo himself, seemed to test the waters for a mayoral challenge by the disgraced former governor. Another—paid for by Adams opponent Curtis Sliwa, so, grain of salt here—indicated that Cuomo could beat Adams in a Democratic primary. These numbers, as well as the prospect of a Cuomo-Adams match-up, disturbed us at Hell Gate HQ, but then we had an idea—could a new challenger swoop in on tawny, dappled wings and steal the hearts and votes of New Yorkers? 

Naturally, we're talking about Flaco the Eurasian eagle-owl. We decided to hit the streets and find out. In late December, Hell Gate conducted a survey of New Yorkers, placing our fingers gently on the pulse of the city with a single question: Which of these three public figures is the most favorable to you: Mayor Eric Adams, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, or Flaco the Eurasian eagle-owl?

The results were overwhelming: 95.7 percent of respondents selected Flaco as the public figure they viewed the most favorably, while only 4.3 percent selected Adams. (No one chose Cuomo.) 

A word on our absolutely indisputable and scientifically sound methodology: Hell Gate spoke with 23 New Yorkers in the slice of Prospect Heights that surrounds the Barclays Center and in nearby Fort Greene over the course of an afternoon—an hour and a half, give or take, because, c'mon, it was pretty cold out. While this pollster made a concerted effort to approach New Yorkers across demographics like age, race, and gender, it must be noted that one unifying factor—not wearing headphones—was consistent across poll participants. This could indicate that Flaco is especially popular with New Yorkers who are ardently engaged with the world around them (or who just have enough free time to mill around outside on a random Thursday afternoon).

Respondents were shown the following image, featuring photos of Adams, Cuomo, and Flaco, and asked to either point to or name the individual they viewed in the most favorable light:

(Hell Gate)

(A tip for any prospective pollsters among our readers: Holy shit did this graphic help strangers' demeanors change, from horror at being approached by someone with a binder to recognition and glee. It's called being funny, heard of it?) 

The only respondent who voted for Adams declined to give her name for privacy reasons, but did insist that this pollster walk next to her while she explained her reasoning anyway—that Adams is "a good man" who "cares about people," an opinion she formed, she said, when she saw Adams speak at a homeless shelter as Brooklyn borough president. This reporter/pollster considered bringing up Adams's repeated cuts to the City's Department of Homeless Services and the ultimately ineffective encampment raids that marked the beginning of his mayoralty, but read the room and prioritized vote collection over arguing with a stranger whose Christmas shopping had just been interrupted.

No one else who participated in Hell Gate's, again, extremely rigorous poll seemed to share the same viewpoint as the woman above.

"Horrible, horrible," one man told me, as he pointed a finger first at Adams, then at Cuomo. "He's the man," he said, as his digit landed on Flaco. He declined to give his name, but said he was an NYPD employee who'd worked with Adams when the mayor was still borough president. His review of our mayor: "Not a fan!" Another respondent squinted at the faces on the printout for a moment before she silently pointed to Flaco, laughing as she walked away. A trio of young people smoking a joint on a bench outside of Ralph's Deli threw their votes in for Flaco, as did an older man with thick dreadlocks leaning calmly on a stone chess table next to the basketball courts on DeKalb Avenue. "I can't stand him," a bespectacled man sweeping the sidewalk outside of a Mediterranean restaurant said in reference to Adams. "Cuomo's not so bad," he continued, "but I've gotta go with the bird." 

Of course, this reporter did not specifically ask anyone whether they thought an owl would do a good job as the mayor of New York City, so perhaps what we can extrapolate in terms of the 2025 mayoral election is limited. But the game of politics is an emotional one, after all—and it's crystal clear to us who's got a gentle, taloned grip on the hearts of everyday New Yorkers.

(Image credit for Flaco: Terry Ballard / Flickr)

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