Originally published August 3, 2022
August is here, which means that the politicians are going to start hitting the trails harder than ever, making their push to prove they are the best candidates to vote for in November. While there are expectations for the upcoming year, there are some surprises that may come up as well.
The midterms elections are usually a referendum on the Party in power, but that is no reason for Republicans to get complacent. Especially in New York, Republicans have a lot of work ahead of them to get their message across. It’s politically fortunate for them (even though it has been realistically unfortunate for us) that New York has been under one-Party rule since 2019. Before Covid hit, there was a marked decline in quality of life in New York State, especially in the metropolitan areas. Everything from plastic shopping bags to judicial discretion in sentencing fell under the microscope of the centralized power emanating from Albany. When the Democrats took control of the final piece of the legislative puzzle – the State Senate – back in 2018, there was nothing stopping them.
New Yorkers have a chance to take the state back from these radical policies. Of the three areas of power, the State Senate is most winnable, then the Governorship, then the State Assembly. From 1992 until 2018, Republicans have held the State Senate in all but one term (2008), albeit with incredibly slim majorities. 2018 was a wave year for New York Democrats, campaigning on President Trump’s unpopularity in his then-home state, and in 2020 they increased their majority to take 43 of the 63 Senate seats.
To win the Senate back, Republicans will have to do more than hope for another wave, this time in their direction. They need to flip at least 12 blue districts to get the majority. At this time, they have a few advantages. First, the Democrats’ attempt to gerrymander the election maps in their favor failed when the courts forced the maps to be redrawn. While the maps are less than optimal for Republicans, they are far better than the original maps signed into law. Second, multiple Democrats in the State Senate are retiring. The best known is Todd Kaminsky, who has decided to not run for re-election after getting shellacked in his bid to become Nassau District Attorney. The result from 2021 are another advantage for Republicans, who won in Nassau County by large margins in some races, and flipped the County Executive seat with the election of Bruce Blakeman. The state senate will be won by focusing on Long Island and Upstate.
Then there are the legislative advantages for the Republican Party, both in and out of state. Polling done by Sienna and NY1 show that Mayor Eric Adams is deeply unpopular. Among New York City residents, he was negative on Overall job performance (64% fair/poor), addressing homelessness (76%), running the city’s public schools (59%), and fighting crime (74%). There is no one issue where respondents gave him a positive review. Every issue that the Democrats have pushed or proposed in the last three years, from ending gifted and talented programs in public schools to defunding the police, is deeply unpopular.
Conservative activist Scott Presler makes it his life’s mission to register people to the Republican Party. He has been credited with helping turn states like Florida from purple to red. He recently announced on Twitter that he will be spending the next month in New York State. This is not something he would do if the state is unwinnable.
New York City is the lynchpin to the entire state. Republicans have no chance of winning New York City outright, but even if they can take a chunk of the vote, those results will ripple throughout the state. This is where the Republican gubernatorial candidate has his best chance. In any other year, a Republican has maybe a 5% chance to win statewide. In this year, with this President, Congress, Governor and State Legislature, those odds increase by multiples. Sienna also says that 92% of respondents list crime as a “serious problem” in the state, and Kathy Hochul herself has a 41% approval rating. The biggest issue for GOP candidate Lee Zeldin is name recognition. Hochul has an advantage of being the incumbent, even if she got the job because Andrew Cuomo was forced to resign.
The State assembly will not become Red, even if the first two areas fall into GOP control. There are too many districts in deep blue areas that it is a statistical impossibility of it occurring. Yet, there is some hope, and reason to make sure that the Assembly candidate should not be ignored. Currently, Democrats hold a super majority, which gives them incredible power. That supermajority allowed the Democrats to pass the most radical legislation in the country. Even reducing that to a simple majority would severely curb their ambitions, and force the Democrats to work with Republicans in the Assembly.
Then there’s the representation in Washington. Given the trends and the candidates, there is a chance that the GOP goes four for four in Long Island. George Santos and Anthony D’Esposito are both running in open seats after Tom Suozzi and Kathleen Rice decided to not seek re-election. Andrew Garbarino is an incumbent, and the winner of the primary in District 1 will be running to succeed Lee Zeldin. Upstate, Republicans can win another 3-5 seats. While most New York representatives on Capitol Hill will be Democrats, Republicans will be sending more than they have in generations.
New York has a chance to begin to right their own wrongs, to show the nation that the Empire State will not become another California. This can be a message to all the residents who fled for the greener pastures of Florida that those who have remained behind hear their grievances and concerns, and we are working on turning our home state around. But it can only happen if people get out to vote.