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Foss: How far will Andrew Yang go?

Foss: How far will Andrew Yang go?

Foss: How far will Andrew Yang go?
Andrew Yang
Photographer: JORDAN GALE/NEW YORK TIMES

Ten Democrats will take the debate stage tonight. 

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, once considered a top-tier presidential candidate, won't be among them. She dropped her presidential bid late last month, after failing to qualify for the third debate. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio won't be among them, either. 

He didn't make the cut for tonight's debate, though his quixotic quest for the presidency continues. 

But don't despair: New York will be represented on the debate stage tonight. 

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, a Schenectady native who currently resides in Manhattan, remains very much in the presidential race. 

He's managed to build the strong base of support that eluded Gillibrand and continues to elude de Blasio, and his name recognition is growing. 

The New York Times current state of the race chart lists Yang at sixth place, below California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and above New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former Texas Senate hopeful Beto O'Rourke. 

And while his 3 percent national polling average might not look like much, it starts to look a lot better when you consider that Gillibrand's polling average hovered around zero percent for most of her campaign.

It also suggests that Yang's candidacy has potential that other long-shot bids have lacked. As the polling expert Nate Silver observed, "Historically, these less-well-known candidates have a lot more room to grow from single-digit polling." 

I'm as surprised by Yang's success as anyone. 

I never would have predicted that his ability to connect with primary voters would surpass Gillibrand or de Blasio's, or that he'd be rising in the polls while other, better-known candidates flailed about at the bottom of the heap, unable to gain traction. 

That said, I've enjoyed Yang's presence in the race, in much the same way I might have enjoyed living down the hall from him in my college dormitory. 

He's got a lot of ideas, some of them fairly unusual, and he clearly enjoys sharing them. 

Voters looking for something a little different than typical Democratic party messaging will find that Yang's platform and outlook offer much to chew on. 

His call for a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for every American adult over the age of 18 is something most voters probably haven't heard before — and it appears to be capturing their attention. Yang's UBI proposal aims to address the economic upheaval caused by job-killing automation — another topic that seems to be resonating with voters. 

As an article about Yang on the news site Politico observed, Yang has "zeroed in on the same elemental problem Trump did en route to his shock of a win in '16: A large portion of the populace is being left behind, and it's not remotely OK. Similarly, Yang's campaign packs an anti-Washington, convention-bucking, on-the-fly, filter-free vibe. There are four-letter hats — not MAGA, but MATH (Make America Think Harder). And his Trump train? It's the Yang gang." 

How far Yang's candidacy goes is anybody's guess. 

But his unorthodox approach and unusual policy focus have distinguished him from the pack. 

His ability to win over voters with ideas is impressive, and I suspect he'll be in the hunt long after other, better-known candidates have given up and dropped out. 

Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper's. 

 

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