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November 21, 2018

New York City Election Day sees massive Trump Bump, turnout nearly doubles last midterm

November 8, 2018
Voters of the 104th Election District wait as long as three hours for their chance to enter the polling site at 360 Adams St., downtown Brooklyn. Polls across the country are seeing record turnout. (Hermann, Marc, A. /)

Voter turnout got an Election Day Trump bump with ballots cast within the city nearly doubling compared to the last midterm election.

A staggering 1.9 million New Yorkers voted in Tuesday’s governor’s race — a 90 percent increase from the approximately 1 million votes cast in the same contest during the 2014 midterm election.




Those 1.9 million votes represent about 22 percent of the city’s population. The 2014 turnout made up only 12 percent of city residents.

Long-time political observers attributed the surge in voter participation to one over-riding actor: President Trump.

“It’s gotta be some sort of record. It’s astounding for a midterm,” said George Arzt, a political consultant and former aide to Mayor Ed Koch. “As long as Trump is around, he will antagonize the voters in New York.”

The 1.9 million votes Tuesday didn’t come close to the 2.7 million ballots voters in the five boroughs cast in 2016, during the most recent presidential election, but far surpassed other midterms. Compared with the 1.36 million votes for governor in the 2010 midterms, Tuesday’s tally marked a 41 percent increase.

“It’s because of what Trump has done,” said Ahmad Arit, 18, a student at the New York City College of Technology. “People are trying to see if they can make a change.”

But while Trump’s divisive rhetoric certainly played a significant role in Tuesday’s turnout, it wasn’t the only factor.

“We had so many contested, hot races for Congressional seats. And we had some really hotly contested state Senate races,” said Jennifer Wilson, legislative director with the state League of Women Voters.

Trump was certainly a factor, but not just in the city. He drove supporters upstate to the polls as well, Wilson noted.

Statewide turnout also spiked significantly. With 15,453 of 15,529 election districts reporting, a total of 5,792,005 votes were cast for governor throughout the state Tuesday. The statewide total cast in the 2014 gubernatorial race was 3,924,990.

Wilson said Tuesday’s numbers would have been even higher if New York State voting laws allowed for early voting, same-day voter registration and fewer election days per yearly cycle.

“A lot of the issues we saw yesterday would be addressed with those reforms,” she said.

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