November 12, 2018

My Middle-aged White Lady Perspective: The NY Midterms

Lots of people are feeling emotional about the outcome of the midterms; where races have been decided, the emotions run the gamut from active joy to abject disgust, and pretty much a little of everything in between.

That's true here in New York, where we're sending our Sonofa Gov, Andrew Cuomo, back to Albany for another term. And while polls shows the gap was only 13% right before Election Day, in the end it wasn't even close - Cuomo won by 1.26M votes, taking 59% of the 5.4M votes cast, to challenger Marc Molinaro's under 37%.

Lots of folks are suggesting that the reason why Cuomo won was "because of New York City." If you just looked at the election map, you can make that case. Cuomo won all of the NYC counties, plus some of the cities elsewhere in the state.

But here's the thing: there are 26 counties (out of 62) in New York where November's active voter registration favors the Dems - yet Cuomo won only 15 of them, The other 11 blue counties ended up in Molinaro's column on the ledger. 

Now, I know - as everyone running for office in NY knows - that voter registration is heavily skewed towards the Dems. Just in the NYC counties, registered Dems outnumber registered Republicans by some 2.6M; statewide, the margin is over 3.1M. Winning a statewide race as a Republican is certainly an ant/rubber tree kind of thing. 

But it has been done before. George Pataki, who had been in the State Assembly and the State Senate, beat three-term governor Mario Cuomo by about 173,000 votes. Cuomo won only one county outside NYC in that race. 

Which suggests to this middle-aged white lady that the issue is not only the geography and the registration numbers: it's the Republicans themselves. Remember, these are the Republicans who had to have help from a group of independent Dems to keep control of the State Senate the past few years. And this year, mind you, they lost the Senate, so now all of NY is in the hands of the Dems, with no checks and balances. (Thanks for that, by the way). 

What was wrong with their message that the Rs couldn't put up a respectable fight against our ethically-challenged governor? Why were they not able to get people's attention on New York State, while the Sonofa Gov was busy running for President? Why were they not able to capitalize on spending fatigue, unfunded mandate fatigue, unbudgeted Authority fatigue? Unfair school funding fatigue? Economic development gimmick fatigue? People leaving the state fatigue?

Why doesn't a Republican ever knock on my door? I know, I'm in the city of Syracuse, and the city skews blue - so there's no need to even bother asking for my vote?  Why not try some concerted outreach to moderate Dems?  Cuomo won Onondaga County by less than 8,500 votes - barely 5%, whereas registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 25,000.

There's room here, red people -- there's room.  I vote for the candidate I think can do the job, without regard to party label. I've voted for Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, Independents, Working Families, Conservatives -- so don't write me off without even trying.

I'm not an expert on the Dems - and I've been a registered one my entire adult life. I'm certainly not an expert on the Republicans.  But I did want to share this opinion from some folks who pretend to be experts - the NY Post editorial board.  Take a look at these excerpts:
Tuesday brought the state Republican Party to a new low, and the city GOP to the edge of extinction.
The biggest change has been a long time coming: Republican control of the state Senate has been at risk for decades now, preserved by extreme gerrymandering and the votes of renegade Democrats.
And while the chamber's GOP members fought off the occasional tax hike and other progressive priorities, its members have mainly focused on what bacon they could deliver for their districts or favors for special interests.
And these guys like the Republicans...
Above all, they failed to fundamentally alter New York's high-tax, high-regulation approach to... everything, which has gradually eroded the upstate economy to dust - leading to the depopulation of the state's most rock-rib-Republican areas.
They go on to note, after bashing Long Island GOP efforts, that this will be the first year since 1854 that there won't be a Republican Congressman from NYC. And they're not kind to the state GOP, either - it's pretty much across the board disgust with the entire red empire.

So where do the Rs go from here? Well, it's not all bad.
The only good news is that there's nowhere to go but up: to learn and grow enough that Republicans just might possibly be ready to lead when Democrats, now in total control, fail badly enough that voters have to turn somewhere. 
If the GOP remnants look to the future, they just might be able to have one.
Maybe - although the editorial makes it sound like these guys couldn't find the future if it was right in front of them...

Look, it's undeniable that there are way more registered Democrats in NY than there are Republicans. On the other hand, there are way more major-party registrations outside NYC (4.79M) than there are in NYC (3.6M).

The Republicans need to get their boots on the ground; light a fire under the county party operatives or get rid of them (they're horrible,by the way) and spend the next two years honing a message that's meaningful to voters.

The map is the map - the message is up to them.

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