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November 21, 2018

LOVETT: 7 things to watch heading into Tuesday’s elections

November 5, 2018
A voter asks an election worker a question as she votes at Samuels Community Center in the presidential election November 8, 2016 in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. (KENA BETANCUR / AFP/Getty Images)

ALBANY — A blue wave or a blue ripple? Here are seven things to watch heading into Tuesday’s crucial state and congressional mid-term elections.

1. Turnout




Insiders on both sides agree that a high turnout favors Gov. Como and the Democrats. A low turnout could help Republicans.

Veteran Democratic political operative Bruce Gyory, who is not working on any races this year, said based on the high turnout of the September Democratic primary, the intense focus on Washington, and the number of key House and state Senate races, he believes turnout in New York can hit as much as 6 million voters, or about 2 million more than in 2014.

In 2010, 4.8 million people showed up at the polls. If 5.5 million to 6 million show up to the polls, “that could have dramatic repercussions” for close congressional and state Senate races and could lead to a number of upsets, Gyory said.

Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg tends to agree a high turnout would benefit the Democrats, but said it could also help upstate Republicans in congressional and state Senate districts if the GOP voters in those are highly motiviated.

He said turnout four years ago was 36%, with Democrat-heavy New York City accounting for 26% of that while eight years ago it was 45%, with New York City voters accounting for 29%.

2. How high — or low — can Cuomo go?

Cuomo failed to crack 50% in a Siena College poll released Sunday, though he maintained a 13-point lead over Republican opponent Marc Molinaro.

If Cuomo truly has presidential ambitions for 2020, he will have to do a lot better than hovering around 50% in his home state — one of the bluest in the nation — to show he’s a legitimate national candidate, most experts say.

Greenberg, admitting he’s in the minority, argued if Cuomo wins by double digits it doesn’t matter what percentage of the vote he got for him to be able to be a viable presidential candidate.

To a far lesser extent, eyes will also be on U.S. Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand performance, as she, like Cuomo, is believed to harbor national ambitions.

On the Republican side, can Molinaro beat or come close to the 40% GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino got four years ago?

3. House blues?

Democrats in New York outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1; nine of the state’s 27 congressional districts boast GOP representatives.The big question is whether the blue wave predicted by Democrats is real and how many House Republicans in New York could be caught up in it.

The answer could affect Democratic efforts nationally to take back the House.




“There’s at least half a dozen congressional races in New York that are very much a jump ball right now,” said Neal Kwatra, a veteran Democratic operative who has worked with several super PACs on several of those races.

A Democratic strategist said a harbinger for the party could come early after the polls close Tuesday night, by tracking how well Republicans perform in traditional GOP districts like those belonging to incumbent Reps. Daniel Donovan (R-S.I.) and Pete King (R-L,I).

4. Will this actually be the year for the state Senate Democrats?

Senate Dems the past several cycles have predicted they would claim control of the state chamber, but have failed to do so for myriad reasons.

With the wind at their backs, if they don’t take advantage of the anti-Trump fervor in New York this time around and pick up at least the one net seat needed to take the majority, what will that mean for the futures of Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and, particularly, Sen. Michael Gianaris, the Queens Democrat who heads his conference’s campaign effort?

5. The year of the woman?

With the #MeToo movement as a backdrop, more female candidates are seeking office in New York this year than every before. Will they break through?

Politico New York reported that 105 women will appear on major party lines for the Legislature’s 213 seats, a 22% jump from 2016.

Women make up about 52% of the population, but just 28.7% of the Legislature and just shy of 20% overall in Congress.

6. Minor parties

If there is a blue wave, is this the year the Conservative Party loses its vaunted third spot on the ballot? Such a fear may explain why the party is running ads calling on Trump supporters to vote for Molinaro on the Conservative line.

The progressive Working Families Party, which has Cuomo at the top of ticket — much to the consternation of many of its rank-and-file members — has been sending out emails and videos urging people to vote up and down the ticket.

Meanwhile, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and the newly created Serve America Movement are all hoping their gubernatorial candidates get at least the 50,000 votes needed to ensure they have a guaranteed spot on the ballot the next four years.

If they do, Greenberg notes, that would mean there is a potential to have 10 parties that are guaranteed spots on the ballot moving forward.

7. Who will be the biggest vote-getter among the statewide Democrats?

Four years ago, it was state Controller Thomas DiNapoli. It’s quite possible it could come down to him or Gillibrand.

“We would never project that, and we would never want to jinx that possibility,” DiNapoli said. “We were pleasantly surprised four years ago, but I learned years ago, I only need to have one more vote than my next competitor.”

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