The Democratic Dilemma: Decoding New York’s Electoral PuzzleNovember 12, 2023
Last week’s Election Night in New York looked a lot like Election Night in 2022. Despite Democrats celebrating victories around the country, they faced strong Republican performances in many parts of the Empire State, leaving many to wonder, borrowing from Thomas Franks’ 2005 book, “What’s the Matter with New York?”
- Democrats won the governorship again in Kentucky, while the Republicans picked up a City Council seat in the Bronx;
- Republicans reelected Inna Vernikov to her Brooklyn City Council seat, despite recent legal troubles;
- Republican Ed Romaine won the election for Suffolk County executive, the first Republican to win the job in 20 years;
- Republicans solidified control of all countywide seats in Nassau and Suffolk counties;
- Republicans also expanded their majority in the Nassau County legislature.
Siena College polls from May, August, and October showed a displeased New York electorate, with concerns about crime, quality of life, and inflation. As Democrats look ahead to 2024, winning back competitiveness in New York will be crucial in battleground areas like the suburbs and upstate.
- The confluence of crime, quality of life, and the migrant crisis have made the New York electorate fearful and anxious;
- Candidates “out progressivizing” one another works well in Democratic primary elections but doesn’t play well in places like suburban Long Island;
- Inflation is hurting everyone’s paycheck, and Democrats are taking the blame.
Moving forward, Democrats need to demonstrate genuine empathy, pull back on divisive rhetoric, champion economic growth opportunities, and put forth bold, moderate candidates. They also need to improve their voter turnout efforts.
Honan is the CEO and president of Honan Strategy Group and co-president of the New York Metro Chapter of the American Association of Political Consultants. Wierson is a media consultant and former political advisor to former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.