Can New York Become A Battleground State?

 Originally published March 16, 2022

https://www.queensjewishlink.com/index.php/opinion/6245-can-new-york-become-a-battleground-state

The midterm elections are eight months away, and candidates from all over the Empire State are gearing up for a long election season.  With the dismal job being done by President Joe Biden and the Democratic Majorities in the House and Senate, candidates running for federal seats are looking forward to their races with a certain level of optimism.  With the awful track record of Governor Kathy Hochul combined with the Supermajorities in the State Senate and Assembly, this may be the best chance that the GOP has had in decades to turn New York in their favor.

The most notable statewide elections are for the Governorship and U.S. Senate.  Congressman Lee Zeldin, from Suffolk County, is currently the presumptive nominee for the GOP to run against Hochul.  His ticket is rounded out by Alison Esposito, Michael Henry, and Paul Rodriguez for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller, respectively.

The Zeldin team received great internal polling data showing that Zeldin is leading Hochul 45.5 percent to 44 percent.  The survey was publicly released, and it showed that the top two issues for voters are crime and taxes, two issues that the Republicans have a distinct advantage in.  

While Democrats gerrymandered the individual districts on both the state and federal level, obviously statewide elections are not affected by their partisan chicanery.  If they feel sanguine about their chances, however, it’s for good reason.  Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in the state, and a Republican Gubernatorial candidate hasn’t won statewide since 2002.  However, there are distinct comparisons to be made between 2022 and 1994, when George Pataki upset Mario Cuomo.

The 1994 midterm elections were called the “Gingrich Revolution,” as House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich led a massive wave across the country.  It was the first time Republicans had the majority in the House of Representative since 1955.  And Bill Clinton wasn’t as unpopular as Biden is today; in fact, Clinton polled 12-16 points higher at the time than Biden does now.  The simple message of Clinton being a “tax and spend” Democrat after a dozen years of Reaganomics was enough to sink the Democrats.

Look at what’s happening in New York now.  Crime is skyrocketing - up 60% in New York City.  Unemployment is stagnating, and inflation is destroying any wage gains that may have come.  Gas prices are through the roof, the highest ever recorded.  Taxes are so high that people are leaving in droves.  Schools are failing.  Even though the COVID-mania seems to have waned, it could come back at any point on a whim.  People are angry, and rightfully so.  Republicans will show up in large numbers, and Democratic voters may be depressed enough to stay home.

Zeldin, assuming he wins the nomination, should be ecstatic with this poll, even if it is an outlier.  The campaign has barely begun, and he’s already showing grit against Hochul.

Of course, the main election-watchers are all betting on the Democrats.  Cook Political Reports and Inside Elections both have New York as Solid D, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball has Likely D.  So it may take something just shy of a miracle to swing those points.  Here’s how it can be done.  

Going by the trends in Virginia and New Jersey in 2021, there was approximately a 14-point shift from Democrats to Republicans between that election and the Presidential election in 2020.  If Republicans can drive out the vote in big numbers in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and Upstate, and Democrats don’t show up in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Erie County, they have a strong chance.  Queens and Brooklyn, while both strong Democratic enclaves, both had upsets in the City Council races in 2021, showing a strong groundswell of support for changing the status quo.  

Another benefit for the Republicans is that status quo resistance will not play as heavy a factor.  Hochul, while being the “incumbent,” is in her position because of the resignation of Andrew Cuomo.  Cuomo, meanwhile, is starting to speak publicly again and release political ads rehabbing his image.  Cuomo’s fall from grace was always going to be a drag on Hochul, who was associated with him for years.  If he is more present in the race, possibly even on the ballot in a lesser role, moderates and independents may reflexively vote against him.

All that being said, this will not be a cakewalk for the GOP by any means.  New York is deep blue territory, on par with California.  It will take a lot of time, effort, money, and work to win this state.  If there is a year where it could happen though, 2022 seems to be it.  To many New Yorkers, this year is Do or Die.  


Moshe Hill is a political columnist and Senior Fellow at Amariah, an America First Zionist organization. Moshe has a weekly column in the Queens Jewish Link, and has been published in Daily Wire, CNS News, and other outlets.  You can follow Moshe on his blog www.aHillwithaView.com, facebook.com/aHillwithaView, and twitter.com/HillWithView. 

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