Sie sind auf Seite 1von 21

MEMORANDUM

From: Bruce N. Gyory


Re:

Anatomy of NYSs 2014 Statewide Elections An Uncertain Future

Date: April 15, 2015


Synopsis
By historical standards, the Governor Cuomos 2014 re-election margin was quite solid
(i.e., almost exactly where Rockefellers numbers stood in 1962) even as it was not a landslide a
la Cuomos 2010 election. No Governor of New York has won back to back landslides (defined
as combining as both a large absolute numbers lead over 650,000 votes and a large outright
majority over 55% of the vote) since Lehman (in 1932 and 1934).
Cuomos victory was never in doubt, but the general elections margin, following his
contentious primary win against Teachout by just shy of 2-1, was far closer than the polls
projected, leaving an aura of surprise. That Cuomo finished at 54% (a 13% margin) rather than
57% or higher of the vote, was at root a function of a very low turnout in NYC and a tightening
of the race Upstate and on Long Island.
The most important factor to note about the 2014 returns, is that almost three quarters of
the statewide vote was cast outside of NYC (74%) and that low turnout reduced both the female
share of the vote to 51% (from its consistent 53% level over the last decade), and the aggregate
minority vote down to a 28% share from 29% in 2010, (but most importantly knocking the
minority vote off its long term growth trajectory which should have placed it at a 30 or 31%
share in 2014).
Given that, Astorino snared only a third of the Womens vote and got well under a quarter
of the minority vote, that low vote from NYC merely reduced the Democratic margins for the
Cuomo led ticket. Astorino did almost nothing to further the GOPs prospects for once again
winning statewide. In the end, the texture of the campaign reduced the impact of overwhelming
margins from base Democratic voters for Cuomo, while Astorino failed to advance the
Republican reach beyond the dwindling conservative base.
In terms of the 2014 numbers, Comptroller DiNapoli led the Democratic ticket in terms
of both percentage of the vote (60% for DiNapoli, to Schneidermans 55.7% and Cuomos
54.3%) and absolute numbers (DiNapoli 2,233,057 votes to Schneidermans 2,069,956 votes and
Cuomos 2,069,480 votes-almost identical). DiNapoli, alone amongst the Democratic statewide
candidates, carried all three regions of the state (Cuomo and Schneiderman failed to carry
Upstate).
Moreover, DiNapoli hitting 60% in a near record low statewide turnout was a real
achievement (3,930,310 with blanks counted, but only 3,812,708 votes cast for gubernatorial
candidates, 3,714,505 for the Attorney General candidates and 3,712,189 for the Comptroller
candidates). In turn, that low turnout, left a regional breakdown not at all conducive for
Democrats (49% of the vote came from Upstate, only 26% from NYC and 25% from the 4
Suburban Counties).
1

In a historical anomaly, 2014 was a year with almost no drop-off from the gubernatorial
vote to the Comptrollers vote (2.6%) and the Attorney Generals race (2.57%), with the vote for
Attorney General slightly higher than the Comptrollers vote (by 2,316 votes). Traditionally, that
drop off was 4% and sometimes as high as 9 or 10% off the gubernatorial vote (e.g., in 2010 the
drop off from the gubernatorial to the Comptrollers vote was 3.8% and it was 4.5% from the
gubernatorial to the AGs vote) and the vote in the AGs race was before always slightly below,
not ahead of the vote in the Comptrollers race.
In the wake of the 2014 election returns, neither the Democratic nor the Republican
parties have much to cheer about. A fair analysis of these returns reveals that both major parties
failed to advance their long-term electoral agendas, leaving themselves with exposed
vulnerabilities in future gubernatorial elections.
The Democrats have once again failed to prove any lasting capacity to push their base in
New York City toward voting its electoral weight in a gubernatorial race. New York City is 43%
of the states population, 38% of the states registered voters, but only cast 26% of the states
vote in the 2014 election. This paltry 26% share was not only far below NYCs registration
share, but significantly below the 30% share cast by NYC in 3 of the last 4 gubernatorial
elections and dramatically below the 34-35% share cast by NYC, in the states 2008 and 2012
presidential races.
This chronic under voting from NYC (which goes back to the 1980s), leaves New Yorks
Democrats vulnerable to a Republican who could hit the following tipping points for victory
(60% of the vote from Upstate, 57% from the Suburbs and cracking 30% of the vote from NYC)
when the NYC share is under 30% of the statewide total. Meanwhile, in 2014 just like in 2010
and 2006, the GOP came nowhere close to hitting these tipping points in even a single region.
Thus, for the GOP in electoral terms, 2014 was a wasted year in the gubernatorial race. The
Republicans have not carried the state since Patakis third term run in 2002: for President,
Governor, US Senate, Comptroller or AG.
While the Democrats are showing signs of retreat from their recent success in carrying
Upstate (2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012), particularly amongst conservative Democrats and
moderate Independents, the Republicans were blown away Downstate, not only in NYC but
losing in the Suburbs as well. The 2014 election was the fifth consecutive statewide election
where the Republicans failed the garner even a third of the states female majority, while
continuing to lose the minority vote by margins of 4-1. Republican strength downstate seems to
be lodged only on LI, as the Northern Suburbs (Rockland as well as Westchester) continue a
sharp shift to the Democrats in statewide elections.
Consequently, the near future of gubernatorial politics in NYS will be determined by
which party can best compensate for these weaknesses (Democrats on turnout and amongst nonliberal voters outside NYC) and Republicans (amongst female and minority voters). If both
parties continue to fail in this regard over the next decade, one could see the emergence of a
Bloomberg type independent, anchored to neither party, who could be elected Governor powered
by the current of vital center voters, especially if such a candidate could capture significant
support from 2 of the 3 key minority pillars in the Democrats base (Black, Hispanic and Asian
voters, with Hispanic and Asian voters being the most likely to pull away from the Democrats).
We are not there yet and no such personage is currently looming, but that potential could
someday become a magnet for just such a candidate running against both major parties.
2

In practical terms, the Democrats need to avoid a schism taking hold along the fault lines
exposed in the Cuomo Teachout primary (moderate vs. progressive Democrats), while the
Republicans must find a way to garner support from female, Hispanic and Asian voters in
general elections.
New York is a Democratic, not a liberal state, especially in lower gubernatorial turnouts.
The 2014 exit polls were pretty conclusive, 27% of the states voters described themselves as
liberals, 29% as conservative, but 44% as moderates. New Yorks liberals have reached parity
with conservatives in recent decades, not because the liberal share has grown, but because the
conservative share of the electorate has shrunk at the expense of a rising tide of moderate voters
(e.g., in 1970, Rockefellers last election a Yankelovich poll for the Times pegged NYS
ideological splits at 37% conservative, 33% moderate and 27% liberal; On His own Terms: A
Life of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith at p. 565).
Meanwhile, the key for continued Democratic success is growing the share cast by the
states urban cores (where Democratic margins are powered by minority and progressive white
voters) while holding the moderate voters so critical in the Suburbs, Upstate as well as
Downstate. The Democrats need to do both, it is not sufficient to accomplish just one of those
objectives. If an ideological schism takes hold in NYS, within the Democratic Party, the party
could become vulnerable in gubernatorial contests, if these independent voters and conservative
Democrats bolt (i.e., the political algebra which defined NYS politics from 1942-1972 in the
Dewey Rockefeller era).
Alternatively, the Republicans cannot win statewide with a purely conservative coalition
in NYS, given the Democrats registration advantage and the de facto parity along the ideological
divide in NYS. Instead, to win Republicans must relearn the lessons of Dewey, Rockefeller,
DAmato and Pataki: a Republican can win statewide only if they can raid key Democratic blocs.
In the past that meant Republicans garnering Jewish and White Catholic voters. Today as
women in NYS usually hit the 53% share of the states voters and the aggregate minority vote is
heading towards a full third of the statewide vote, that means Republicans have to be able to
gainer the votes of women, as well as Hispanic and Asian voters. We seem a long way from
when DAmato took 40% of the Jewish vote (1992), Bloomberg took 47% of Hispanics (2001)
and Pataki 45% of Hispanics (2002), while Bloomberg and Pataki swept the Asian vote, the
Jewish vote and both ran as pro-choice candidates.
If future elections lead to Democratic standard bearers who cannot carry moderate voters
(i.e., the Democratic schism leads to far left victories in primaries), while the GOP refuses to
break out, succeeding amongst women, particularly women who are Hispanic and Asian, then a
vacuum could open at the very center of the states electorate. The Democrats need to avoid
complacency while the Republicans cannot prevail unless they turn Democratic vulnerability
into Republican gains (i.e., potential does not equal victory).
Democrats also have to ask themselves whether a regional turnout pattern is emerging
where the Republicans have no chance in presidential election years, but the Democrats could be
at risk in gubernatorial years? For Democrats it is a worry if the NYC share of the vote is over
8% less in gubernatorial years than in presidential years (i.e., NYCs share of the statewide
voting share, was 35% in the 2012 presidential but only 26% in the 2014 gubernatorial contest: a
9% gap vs. the traditional 2-4% of the 2000-2010 decade). When you lose close to 10% of the
NYC vote from the presidential to the gubernatorial TO pattern, and you are carrying that vote
3

by 3-1 or better margins, it can change the ball game against the Democrats (i.e., you lose your
cushion).
Derivatively, to count out the Republicans from the ability to retake the Governors office
is premature. That Democratic hope ignores the pendulum of New York State politics: long
periods of diaspora preceding a return to viability (e.g., Dewey after the Democrats held the
gubernatorial serve from 1922-1942; the Democrats winning 5 terms under Carey and Cuomo
after winning only one gubernatorial race from 1942-1970; and Pataki winning three terms,
followed by three Democratic wins under Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo, two by landslides). To
succeed, the Republicans, like the Democrats after 1970, need to shake off their self-defeating
lethargy by fully confronting the ideological and demographic challenges blocking their ability
to win statewide.
If the Republicans do not find a way to regain their edge on issues and themes resonating
with swing voters, they could find themselves not just lacking viability in running against the
Democrats, but vulnerable to a Bloomberg like independent eschewing altogether the GOP
banner, running on their own line (i.e., under a self-crafted banner). That kind of campaign
would not succeed (or even become competitive) unless both parties simultaneously veered away
from confronting these challenges.
These are the electoral trends I see taking out my periscope and peering around the
corner, after analyzing this years returns. Which major party, if either will have the courage as
well as the discipline to maximize its long term prospects for electoral advantage as the precursor
to a sustained opportunity to govern in the Empire State? To paraphrase Shakespeares Hamlet,
that is the question. We will not be able to project the long term future of NYS politics unless
and until that question is answered.
Analysis
1.

The Gubernatorial Race:

Any serious analysis of the 2014 election must begin with the near record low turnout in
2014. Historically, a low turnout gubernatorial election was 4.3 million votes, while a moderate
turnout was in the 4.5-4.8 million range and high turnout over 5.2 million votes. In 2014, the
gubernatorial turnout counting blank, void and scattered (BVS) ballots was 3,930,310 votes.
Meanwhile, in terms of votes cast for candidates, the gubernatorial turnout in 2014 was only
3,812,708 votes (i.e., in 2010, 4,654,163 votes were cast for gubernatorial candidates).
The 2014 turnout, was therefore NYS lowest turnout since 1934, when 3.595 million
votes were cast in Lehmans landslide over Roberts Moses (a 21% margin totaling 807,983
votes).
This near record low 2014 turnout led to a regional skew. In 3 of the last 4 gubernatorial
elections (including 2010) the regional splits were 46% of the vote coming from Upstate
(everything north and west of Westchester and Rockland), 30% from NYC and 24% from the
Suburbs (Long Island, Westchester and Rockland). NYC had begun to climb back from the
depths of its low turnout shares in the 1990s. Keep in mind that in terms of registration: 39% of
the states registered voters live Upstate; 38% are from NYC and 23% reside in the Suburbs.
4

Last years regional splits including BVS ballots took us back to the 1990 and 1994
levels, reflecting the Indian Summer of Upstates electoral ascendency:
Upstate
NYC
Suburbs

1,925,705
1,035,932
968,673
3,930,310

49%
26%
25%

The BVS votes in the gubernatorial race broke down:


Upstate

63,012

53.5%

NYC
Suburbs

22,877
31,713
117,602

19.5%
27%

Last years turnout pattern probably reflected a greater rejection of the gubernatorial race
by voters from outside NYC, especially Upstate. Thus, in the gubernatorial race, the vote outside
NYC drove the outcome on margin when only the votes for candidates were counted (i.e.,
casting 73.4% of the total vote).
Upstate
NYC
Suburbs

1,862,693
1,013,055
936,960
3,812,708

48.8%
26.6%
24.6%

Lets briefly spotlight the third party votes in the gubernatorial race. Here is how the
third party votes broke down and the line placement they secured for the next four years:
Conservative (Astorino):
Green Party (Hawkins):
WFP (Cuomo):
Independence (Cuomo):
WEP (Cuomo):
SCC (Astorino):

250,634
184,419
126,244
77,762
53,802
51,294

6.6%
4.8%
3.3%
2%
1.4%
1.3%

(Column C)
(Column D)
(Column E)
(Column F)
(Column G)
(Column H)

If you broke it down ideologically, for the major party candidates, the party lines of the
right: Conservative + SCC totaled 301,928 (8%) vs. the parties of the left WFP + WEP 180,046
(4.7%). Nevertheless the true measure of the left Green + WFP and WEP 364,465 (9.56%),
surpassed the parties of the right.
The Stop Common Core (SCC) party fizzled out, as the Womens Equality Party line
outvoted it in the Suburbs. The SCC line was a bigger factor Upstate, but had only a marginal
effect overall on the race (i.e., Astoriano lost his gamble that the SCC line would be a wedge
factor in the Suburbs). It is therefore perfectly understandable why Astorino would seek to
change the name of the SCC party to the Reform party, but it is utterly unfathomable why
Astorino would try to hold onto this line, risking the ire of the Conservative Party which
provided Astorino with 250,000, in favor of projecting this new party which netted him a scant
51,294 votes.
5

That Astorino does not see how and why Mike Long and the Conservative Party would
see this SCC line recast as a Reform party, as a threat to their political square on the States
chessboard, is an example of why Astorinos entire campaign came down to a game of tactical
checkers, when a long term chess strategy was what the GOP needed.
If Astorino tries to run for Governor in 2018, instead of going into that race with the
Conservative Party at his back, Astorino might face the prospect of an independent candidate on
the Conservative line, splintering a conservative base, that is itself too narrow limb upon which
to build a statewide majority.
Cuomo won a clear victory, but not the landslide that the polls projected, precisely
because his margins in the Suburbs were smaller than expected and Astorino narrowly carried,
rather than narrowly lost, Upstate (i.e., the low turnout put a chill on Cuomos final numbers
especially amongst the 73% plus of the vote coming from outside NYC as this turnout pattern
maximized the base Republican vote):

Upstate
NYC
Suburbs

Cuomo

Astorino

Hawkins

Cohn-SAP

802,498
(43.1%)
782,911

936,881
(50.3%)
177,450

109,951
(5.9%)
48,084

2,706
(0.1%)
915

McDermottLibertarian
10,657
(0.6%)
3,695

(77.3%)
484,071
(51.7%)
2,069,480
(54.3%)

(17.5%)
422,548
(45%)
1,536,879
(40.3%)

(4.75%)
26,384
(2.8%)
184,419
(4.8%)

(0.1%)
1,342
(0.1%)
4,963
(0.1%)

(0.3%)
2,615
(0.3%)
16,967
(0.5%)

Astorino Margin Upstate


Cuomo Margin NYC
Cuomo Margin Suburbs
Cuomos Net Margin

134,383
605,461
61,523
532,601

In terms of Upstate vs. Downstate, Cuomos combined margin Downstate of 666,984


trumped Astorinos margin Upstate of 134,383. Or you could view it as Cuomos 605,461
margin in NYC, vaulted over Astorinos narrow 72,860 vote margin outside of NYC, but not in a
landslide. It is also clear from both the primary and general election returns where Cuomo ran
much stronger in Hochuls old congressional district than in other Upstate regions, that picking
Kathy Hochul as his LG running-mate was of clear help to the Governor in terms of hard
political currency.
The closest historical parallel to Cuomos 2014 re-election margin, was Rockefellers
first re-election against Morgenthau in 1962, where Rockefeller got 53.1% of the vote winning
by 529,168 votes.
When you overlay exit polls on top of the actual returns, you can easily see what
happened. Cuomos expected landslide was cut short by two factors. First, the low turnout
dropped the womens share of the total vote to 51% from 53%, of the total vote (women were
53% of NYS general election shares in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012) and the steady rise of the
6

minority vote pulled back to a 28% share, after reaching a gubernatorial high of 29% in 2010.
Second, Howie Hawkins surged from just over 59,000 votes in 2010 to 184,000 votes just under
5% (according to the exit polls Hawkins snared 10% of liberal voters, 6% of Democrats, 7% of
independents, 6% of white women and 8% of voters with post-graduate degrees). This
functional loss of 130,000 votes by Cuomo, heavily weighted amongst Upstates liberal
Democrats (and some on Long Island), kept Cuomo from approaching 60% Statewide (i.e.,
achieving the back to back landslides which only Lehman has achieved in modern times).
Astorino got the same poor share of women voters Paladino got in 2010 33%, but
Cuomo dropped to 61% from 67% of womens votes, due largely to Hawkins getting 5% of
female voters. This was key, because exit polls showed male voters were tied at 47-47%
between Cuomo and Astorino (Hawkins at 5%). In a word, all of Cuomos margin came from
women voters (61-33%). Here again, Hochul bringing balance to the Democratic ticket on
gender as well as geography, was of clear benefit to the ticket. Had women hit their normal 53%
share of the total vote, Cuomo would have crossed 55%.
Amongst minority voters, the Black share of the vote dropped from an 18% share to a
13% share of the total vote, and Cuomo carried it by 82-14% over Astorino (Hawkins at 4% of
Black voters) down slightly from his over 90% level in 2010. Cuomos highest percentage share
of any key voting bloc was amongst Blacks. Hispanics kept a 9% share of the total vote, same as
in 2010, but Cuomo carried it by only 69-27%, significantly below his 82-12% margin from
2010. Astorino mined the growing Pentecostal (social conservatives) wing of the Hispanic vote,
but even in this low TO pattern Astorinos effort did not break the mold. In the 2016 presidential
vote the focus for NYs Hispanics will be on the economy, health care, Cuba and immigration
and the Republican share amongst Hispanics is likely to sink back towards the 20% level. In
2014, the minority voters who stayed home were probably younger and more progressive
accounting for the downtick in Cuomos minority splits from 2010.
Imagine for a second if Astorino possessed the common sense based courage of John
Cahill, the Republican nominee for AG, who supported the Dream Act. Had Astorino followed
suit, especially given his fluency in Spanish, his support for the Dream Act would have probably
taken his Hispanic support from 27% to the 35 or even 38% level (e.g., not unlike Pataki
breaking with Bush over the Vieques bombing issue) registering as a tangible long term
Republican gain. It might also have provided a bridge for the Republican Senate this year to
have supported instead of blocking the Dream Act in the recently concluded State Budget
negotiations. Had that occurred, the trade the Governor sought between the Dream Act and
Cardinal Dolans tuition tax credit proposal might have passed in the State Budget.
Policy is neither my forte, nor the purpose of this memo, but if both the Dream Act and
the tuition tax credit for private and parochial schools had passed that would have been the most
productive governance victory for the Roman Catholic hierarchy since Cardinal Spellman was
referred to as the Powerhouse of New York politics.
Cardinal Dolan (and his Orthodox Jewish allies like Agudath Israel), would have then
owed Astorino a deep debt. Politically, this trade would have benefited both the older White
Catholics committed emotionally to Catholic schools (even as they now serve mostly minority
children) and the newer Catholic Hispanic immigrants behind the Dream Act. So this missed
opportunity around the Dream Act and tuition tax credits, is but another example of how and
why the GOP did not use the 2014 election to advance its long term political needs.
7

For the GOP to succeed statewide, they not only need to consolidate support from White
Catholic voters, who drive the outcomes of elections outside NYC (White Catholics are 50% of
the Suburban vote and a little over 40% of Upstates vote in general elections), but to once again
reach 40% of the Hispanic vote (about to advance from a fifth to a quarter of the NYC vote and
towards double digits in the Suburbs in the next 10 years, before exploding to a full third of the
NYC vote and approaching 15% of the vote not population in the Suburbs with growing
pockets of double digit strength in cities like Albany, Syracuse and Rochester between the 20262030 elections).
My point is neither that the Republicans should run away from their conservative base,
nor that the Democratic Assembly was wrong to listen to the objections of public school
advocates (in opposing the tuition tax credit proposal for that is a policy debate), instead my
point is that to carry NYS in statewide elections the Republicans will need Sister Souljah
moments. Consequently, looking through the lens of pure politics this trade of the Dream Act
for the Tuition Tax credit from the Republican perspective would have been just what the doctor
ordered with both Hispanics and White Catholics (i.e., today 42-44% of the statewide vote, but
that aggregate share will likely grow to 50% of the states vote over the next 10-15 years).
Not to mention that a seminal long term question for New York politics will become
whether Hispanics stay voting in alignment with Black voting trends as they have done over the
last decade or will they drift over time towards a small c Catholic voting pattern more closely
aligned with their White Catholic pew mates (as happened in the NYC mayoral elections of
1985, 1997 and 2001 as well as the gubernatorial election of 2002)? Republican prospects here
in NYS, hinge upon a positive answer to that query (e.g., without breaking 40% of the Hispanic
vote the GOP cant crack 30% of the overall vote in NYC today and soon wont be able to reach
57% of the Suburban vote).
New Yorks Republicans would also be wise to adjust to the growing Climate Change
Gap. The 2014 exit polls in NYS revealed a fascinating nugget. Last year, 68% of New York
voters believed that climate change was a serious problem and that two thirds of the states
electorate broke for Cuomo by a 73-20% margin (so key in the states suburbs both Downstate
and Upstate). If this climate gap becomes a fixture of New York and even national politics (e.g.,
national exit polls showed that 57% of voters in 2014 felt that global warming was a serious
problem and they broke for Democrats by 70-29%), the Republicans would wise to remember
the pro-environmental line which runs straight from Theodore Roosevelt through Nelson
Rockefeller and on to George Pataki in NYS (and includes Presidents Richard Nixon and George
H. W. Bush nationally).
To speak in the brass tacks of politics, when storm surges hit Suburban communities like
Long Islands shores after Sandy, or the river communities in the Hudson and Mohawk river
valleys after Irene, that damage often cascades across affluent towns with large numbers of
independent voters (not to mention highly educated), the classic definition of bellwether
communities. Both parties have work to do on the environmental front both nationally and in
New York. Democrats need to find their heart (willing to fight for issues which have become
base retention opportunities), while the Republicans need to find their head and end the short
sighted blunder adhering to the taint of being perceived as denying climate change (climate
change can become their bridge to the growing ranks of highly educated independent voters).
This classic political saga of the Tin Man vs. the Scarecrow over the green agenda will become
an increasingly important in American politics for as far as the eye can see.
8

As the aggregate minority vote (Black, Hispanic, Asian and bi-racial) grows to a full third
of the statewide electorate (no later than 2022), no Republican can win statewide without getting
at least a third of that full third of the statewide electorate. That unassailable math renders any
election that does not markedly advance the GOPs long term prospects amongst minority voters
(especially Hispanics and Asians with Asians likely to break 10% of the NYC vote and just
under a 5% share in the Suburbs by 2018 or 2020) a strategic failure.
Perhaps history can be a guide. The GOP in NYS ignored the need to cultivate White
Catholic and Jewish voters from 1922-1936, when they were shut out of the Governors
mansion, but Dewey changed that in narrowly losing to Lehman in 1938, before winning three
terms in 1942, 1946 and 1950, leading the charge which Rockefeller, DAmato and Pataki took
up by garnering a majority of White Catholics and at least 40% of Jewish voters in the 1960s,
1980s and 1990s powering Republican revivals in NYS. While it has not been easy to turn
around the Republican elephant in NYS, it can be done. In the past, the desire to win after long
periods of political diaspora in our state has moved both slow elephants as well as stubborn
donkeys in our states political history.
The impact of Hawkins on the Green Party line, plus the greater weight in the share of
total vote coming from Upstates smaller rural counties in a low turnout, who remained angry at
Cuomo over the SAFE Act, helped keep Cuomo at 54% instead of approaching the 60%
statewide threshold he crossed in 2010. Hawkins vote was the balance of power in 8 swing
counties: Suffolk plus 7 Counties Upstate (denying Cuomo victories in those Counties and
rendering the map graphic in the immediate newspaper stories on how many Counties each
candidate carried, shaded in red).
The Green Party is a long term threat to Upstate Democrats. The Green Party has the
right to pursue its ideology, but there is a long term consequence to its approach. The Green
Party does not seek coalitions in pursuit of victory, instead it seeks to advance the purity of its
policy doctrines. The Green Party emerges from the understandable grievances of blue collar
workers Upstate, but its votes actually come from highly educated liberal Democrats. To win
Upstate, where the Democratic registration margins are actually small (154,000), given the hard
core GOP unity, Democrats must carry the lions share of unaffiliated or independent voters
(numbering 976,000 Upstate).
Consequently, if the Green Partys ultimate political effect is the drain off 6-10% the
Democrats liberal base, there are simply not enough moderate independents for Democrats to
win Upstate counties (e.g., why Cuomo lost a significant number of Upstate counties). This can
also hurt Democratic candidates in key legislative contests Upstate. Not to mention the potential
impact of the Green Party opponents pulling Democratic candidates so far left that they cannot
then garner sufficient support from moderate independents and conservative Democrats needed
to win Upstate.
In effect, the ultimate impact of the Green Partys rise, coming right out of the energy
underlying Teachouts candidacy in the primary, could open the door to a GOP revival Upstate.
If the Green Party can expand on Hawkins 6% showing Upstate (i.e., approach 10%) that will
reduce from 60% to 55 or 57% the tipping point for victory statewide which a Republican needs
from Upstate (a much easier threshold for the GOP to cross). If primary schisms on the
Democratic side lead the Democrats to nominate pure left candidates, the Green Party could
shrink back to pre 2014 levels, but that would likely doom the Democrats Upstate amongst the
9

huge swath of independent voters. Alternatively, if Democratic primaries nominate moderates,


but leaves the liberal wing of Upstates Democratic base restive (a la Cuomo in 2014) the Green
Partys capped rise toward double digit votes, will badly hurt Democrats. Either way the
ultimate impact of the Green Party could be to brighten the orange underlying Republican
orthodoxy Upstate.
Cuomo also underperformed against poll driven expectations in the Suburbs. Cuomo
carried Long Island by only 26,408 votes, losing Suffolk by 1,320 votes due to Hawkins snaring
10,327 votes. Ironically, in the Suburbs, Cuomo did best in Westchester County, where Astorino
the County Executive lost his home county by 13% (30,576 votes). In the wake of recent
elections (2009, 2013 and now 2014), low voter turnout is a real problem for Democrats on LI
(i.e., it is Democrats and liberals not Republicans and conservatives, who are staying home nonpresidential years on LI).
The Suburbs are therefore worth taking a close look at, with a total vote of 936,960 from
the Suburbs for gubernatorial candidates. LI continues its leading role, traditionally casting 6870% of the 4 County Suburban vote:
Nassau
Suffolk

Westchester
Rockland

318,948
323,318
642,266

(68.5% of total Suburban vote)

221,988
72,706
294,694

(31.5% of the total Suburban vote)

10

Nassau
Suffolk
Total
Westchester
Rockland
Total
Suburban
Total

Cuomo

Astorino

Hawkins

Cohn-SAP

168,570
(53%)
155,031

140,842
(44%)
156,351

7,986
(2.5%)
10,327

752
(0.2%)
393

McDermottLibertarian
798
(0.3%)
1,216

(48%)
323,601
(50.4%)
123,017
(55%)
37,453
(51.5%)
160,470
(54.5%)
484,071

(48.5%)
297,193
(46.3%)
92,441
(42%)
32,914
(45.3%)
125,355
(42.5%)
422,548

(3.1%)
18,313
(2.9%)
5,972
(2.7%)
2,099
(2.9%)
8,071
(3%)
26,384

(0.1%)
1,145
(0.1%)
128
(0.1%)
69
(0.1%)
197

(0.3%)
2,014
(0.3%)
430
(0.2%)
171
(0.2%)
601

1,342

2,615

(51.7%)

(45%)

(2.8%)

(0.1%)

(0.4%)

To repeat, by historical standards for a Democrat, Cuomo carrying the Suburbs by 61,523
votes (6.7%) in 2014 was a strong showing, but not compared to the 56-58% level early polls
showed was within Cuomos grasp. Cuomos support faded on Long Island, especially in
Suffolk, at the close of the race (here again low turnout hurt Cuomo). Quite frankly, Suffolk has
become much tougher turf for the Democrats in both 2012 and 2014.
The long term lesson for the Democrats in NYS, in terms of what to avoid, is a schism
between its progressive and moderate wings. The States political algebra could not be any
clearer, in fact it is irrefutable. Statewide, especially in gubernatorial years, the Democrats
cannot win beyond the urban cores as pure progressives. Statewide elections can only be won
by dominating the vital center. There are not enough progressives, as liberals prefer to be called
these days, to win Statewide. In turn, the vital center of New Yorks politics resides in Suburban
towns, Upstate as well as Downstate.
The fulcrum point for victory within this vital center is balanced amongst highly
educated, socially moderate but fiscally conservative independents (unaffiliated voters) and blue
collar conservative Democratic voters, both groups heavily White Catholic (though most are
cultural Catholics, rather than Opus Dei Catholics: in short their faith informs, rather than
dominates, their voting patterns). These voters are most interested and supportive of education,
infrastructure, the environment, health care, including reproductive health (these voters are
consistently pro-choice as well as pro same sex marriage despite being Catholic), but they are
also very concerned about taxation in general and property taxes in particular. These voters are
tough on crime and can be scared and hence swayed by regional rivalries (as the Senate
Republican campaigns in State Senate races taught the Democrats in 2014, both on Long Island
and Upstate, by successfully running against limousine liberals from NYC).
White Catholics are 33-35% of NYS general election statewide vote and Democrats
should be concerned that nationally, White Catholics who identified as Democrats throughout the
Reagan era, now are measured by Pew Research to self-describe as Republicans not Democrats
by 9% (five straight years of a GOP edge; NYT April 11, 2015 at p.A11). The trick for
11

Democrats is to continue the straight line of political success from Schumer (1998, 2004, 2010),
Hillary Clinton (2000 and 2006) Spitzer (2006), Andrew Cuomo (2010), Gillibrand (2010 and
2012) and DiNapoli (2014). In brief, the Democrats need to both harness the strength of their
progressive oriented urban cores and meld it to resonate with vital center voters outside NYC
(particularly holding onto White Catholics registered as Democrats but often drifting toward
independent or GOP identification).
If it becomes either/or for Democrats (e.g., as with the Reform-Regular Split amongst the
Democrats which allowed the Republicans to dominate the State in the Rockefeller era, after
Harrimans flawed 1958 campaign), that could open the door for Republicans to have the
potential for a gubernatorial comeback.
The DeBlasio coalition which works fine in NYC (and in cities like Albany and
Rochester), is simply not a viable victory template for the statewide electorate. DeBlasios
protestations to the contrary on the potency of progressive voters is a dangerous mirage for
statewide and national contests. Which does not mean the progressive pulse is unimportant for
Democrats, instead the wise approach is to follow the Schumer model of harnessing progressive
voices without offending the ears of moderate voters.
Alternatively, Andrew Cuomo must avoid both Averill Harrimans lack of leadership in
allowing an intra-party split between progressives and moderates to become a schism and
becoming a mirror to Nelson Rockefellers fate of a long term cold war with his partys dominant
flank, if the Democrats are to maintain their recent string of Empire State successes. Unlike
Rockefeller, whose cold war with his partys right wing was lodged in substance, Cuomos
problems have been cosmetic and tonal. After all, a Democratic Governor who led the way on
same sex marriage (the first major state to pass gay marriage legislation), gun control, an
increase in the minimum wage, liberal Court of Appeals appointments and a progressive tax
reform package in December of 2011, should not be at war with his partys progressive flank.
Meanwhile, this schism for Democrats is not just in NYS, we saw it hit Rahm Emanuels
re-election as Mayor of Chicago and is producing turbulence for Hillary Clintons presidential
campaign. Andrew Cuomo and Rahm Emanuel must not dismiss the progressive pulse, they
would be wise to woo progressive voters and find constructive avenues for engaging on
progressive concerns without losing hold of the vital center. I suspect Hillary Clinton will show
the way as that was the essence of the Third Way approach in the 1990s, which carried the day
both in America and in England (i.e., she must bolster her progressive colors, but to lose the
center is to lose the 2016 presidential election).
Pragmatic political professionals will paraphrase Al Smith and say lets look at the
record. White progressives are on average 32-35% of the Democrats primary electorate.
Progressives can neither win Democratic primaries without clear minority support, nor can they
carry statewide electorates, if they are anathema to vital center voters (e.g., amongst those who
reside in places like Upstate New York or Downstate Illinois). This is true not only in Blue states
(NYS, Illinois and California), but it is a necessity in the swing purple states (e.g., Virginia,
Florida, Ohio, Nevada and Colorado).
Consequently, the need for Democrats adapting the energy of their partys progressive
impulse (to power turnout from the urban cores) without losing contact with the vital center of
the electorate (in suburban communities) where independent and conservative Democrats hold
12

the balance of power, should be seen for what it is a political imperative. This synergy thus goes
beyond Andrew Cuomos Governorship, but his gubernatorial prowess would be enhanced and
magnified if he mastered it and used his second term to avoid the party schism that only Hugh
Carey and his father Mario Cuomo ended in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the final analysis, Andrew Cuomo must not only remember the wisdom of Bill
Clintons admonition Democrats need to fall in love [with candidates], while Republicans tend
to fall in line [behind the candidates next in line] he must transform that advice into his
governing modus operandi.
To receive love in politics it sure helps to show love (i.e., it would help Andrew Cuomo if
he began to show a little love to progressive White and minority voters). Meanwhile, all too
often Cuomos tone (e.g., his reaction to Occupy Wall Street, his interaction with Mayor
DeBlasio and his rhetoric on teachers) got in the way of building a unified party.
Meanwhile, progressive voices as varied as Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Zephyr Teachout
need to gauge how their rhetoric and posture will impact the fortunes of Democratic candidates
in the hard to win swing counties (e.g., Suffolk, St. Lawrence, Onondaga, Dutchess, Monroe,
Niagara and Erie counties). Consequently, to avoid a schism from taking hold amongst
Democrats over the long haul, party leaders should study both the states electoral math and
diplomacys best practices.
Correspondingly, Bill DeBlasio needs to consider Stan Greenbergs years of polling data
focusing on the fact that swing voters often agree with liberals on the issues (e.g., minimum
wage and paid family leave), but often mistrust liberals as managers: read as Mayors, Governors
and Presidents . Overcoming those doubts will only come by sound management and sustained
political outreach, not by lecturing voters on a progressive ascendancy which does not in fact
exist and hence, does not drive the outcomes in statewide or national elections. If Mayor
DeBlasios voice is to resonate in Albany, he must stop being tone deaf to the real concerns of
Democrats outside NYC.
Too few Democratic politicians are around today who remember the impact of DeSapio
ignoring and blocking the Stevensonian Reformers from 1958-1961, which in turn led to the
Reform arrogance in the 1970s all too content with primary victories and general election
defeats, which Jimmy Breslin succinctly captured when he cautioned (in 1974) the then Reform
umbrella group the NDC, to avoid standing for November Dont Count and support Hugh
Carey. The NDC did not listen, but Democratic primary voters did, ushering in not just 5
consecutive Democratic terms, but a template for the subsequent success for Democrats
statewide. In the end, NYS Democrats have a lot to lose from an ideological schism taking hold.

13

2. The Comptrollers Race:


The Comptrollers vote was remarkable in terms of political math: usually the fall off
from the Governors race to the Comptrollers race is anywhere from 4% to as high as 9% (2002
Hevisi Faso race) and the fall off tends to disproportionately come amongst urban minority
voters. DiNapolis 2010 campaign did just enough to counteract this factor in holding off Harry
Wilsons late surge, by hanging on to minority votes.
Historically, there is almost no fall off from the Comptrollers to the AGs race, and the
vote in the AGs race is usually a smidge below the Comptrollers vote. However, in 2014 this
historical precedent on drop off was largely thrown to the side. The drop-off from the total
candidate vote in the gubernatorial race to the Comptroller vote for candidates was only 100,519
(2.6%) and the vote for AG was actually 2,316 votes above the Comptrollers vote (a drop off
from the gubernatorial vote of only 2.57%). Contrast this to 2010 which fit the historical
template since the drop-off was 178,820 in the Comptrollers race (3.8%) and 210,740 (4.5%) in
the AGs race.
I can only read this absence of a real drop off as reflecting a lack of enthusiasm last year
for a gubernatorial race whose outcome was never in doubt. This assessment is buttressed by the
disproportionate splits of the BVS vote coming from Upstate in both the AGs and the
Comptrollers races.
AG: BVS Breakdown
Upstate
NYC
Suburbs

118,615
51,968
45,222
215,805

Comptrollers Race: BVS Breakdown


Upstate
113,452
NYC
60,621
Suburbs
44,048
218,121

55%
24%
21%

52%
28%
20%

There was a little more BVS voting in the 2014 Comptrollers race from NYC and less
Upstate and the Suburbs than in the AGs race. The net effect was the slight but unprecedented
2,316 more votes cast in the AGs race than in the Comptrollers race, which was above it in the
voting booth (e.g., in 2010 there were 31,920 fewer votes cast in the AGs race that in the
Comptrollers).
In 2010, the BVS vote in the Comptrollers race was 267,364 on a far larger base and it
split Upstate 141,395 (53%), NYC 100,718 (38%) and the Suburbs a paltry 25,251 (9%).

14

In terms of votes cast for candidates, the breakdown in the 2014 Comptrollers race was:
Upstate
NYC
Suburbs

1,812,253
49%
975,311
26%
924,625
25%
3,712,189
In 2010, the regional splits in the Comptrollers race were Upstate 46% (2,065,234),
NYC 29% (1,308,888) and the Suburbs 25% (1,101,221). The total vote cast for Comptroller
candidates in 2010 was 4,475,343 votes: 763,154 votes more than in 2014. That downshift in
turnout should have hurt DiNapoli. Thus, the 2014 returns must have put a wide smile on
Comptroller DiNapolis face:

Upstate
NYC
Suburbs
Total

DiNapoli

Antonacci

Portelli-Green

955,589
(53%)
765,619
(78.5%)
511,849
(55%)
2,233,057
(60.2%)

785,551
(43%)
175,950
(18%)
393,142
(43%)
1,354,643
(36.5%)

54,719
(3%)
28,711
(3%)
14,476
(1.5%)
97,906
(2.6%)

DiNapolis Upstate Margin


DiNapolis NYC Margin
DiNapolis Suburban Margin
DiNapolis Statewide Margin

CliftonLibertarian
16,394
(1%)
5,031
(0.5%)
5,158
(0.5%)
26,583
(0.7%)

170,038
589,669
118,707
878,414

The Comptrollers ability to carry the Suburbs by 12% and Upstate by 10% in an
incredibly low (GOP favorable) turnout was most impressive, especially since DiNapoli held
onto a 4-1 margin from NYC voters.
The Suburban vote paints an interesting picture. In low turnout elections, Long Island is
much tougher turf for Democrats (especially in Suffolk) than the northern Suburbs even for a
Long Islander.

15

Nassau
Suffolk
LI Total
Westchester
Rockland
NS Total
Suburban
Total

DiNapoli
174,134
(55%)
165,249
(51%)
339,383
(53%)
130,146
(60%)
42,320
(59%)
172,466
(60%)
511,849

Antonacci
136,861
(45.3%)
148,021
(46%)
284,882
(45%)
80,543
(37.5%)
27,717
(39%)
108,260
(38%)
393,142

Portelli
3,950
(1.2%)
5,768
(2%)
9,718
(1.5%)
3,705
(2%)
1,053
(1.5%)
4,758
(1.6%)
14,476

Clifton
1,391
(0.5%)
2,451
(1%)
3,842
(0.5%)
980
(0.5%)
336
(0.5%)
1,316
(0.4%)
5,5158

(55%)

(43%)

(1.5%)

(0.5%)

Total Vote
316,336
321,489
637,825
215,374
71,426
286,800
924,625

Some might interpret DiNapolis victory as a mere reflection of the Comptroller running
against an underfunded candidate leading an almost dormant campaign from Robert Antonacci.
But despite spending next to nothing, Antonacci received only 184,347 votes less than John
Cahill, the leading Republican vote getter (from the Attorney Generals race), and only 182,236
less than Rob Astorino, who ran an energetic, if ineffective, race for Governor.
Consequently, I think the size of Comptroller DiNapolis victory was clearly aided by a
weak opponent, but DiNapolis electoral strength in 2014 may have been rooted in firmer
footing. Unlike Cuomo or Schneiderman, DiNapoli had an error free tenure in his term
beginning January 1, 2011, both in terms of policy and politics. DiNapoli ran just as strongly in
New York City (78.5 % of NYCs vote) as Cuomo ( 77%) and Schneiderman (79%), but unlike
Schneiderman who lost Long Island (by 5,300 voters) DiNapoli carried Long Island by (54,501
votes). Note that Cuomo carried Long Island by only 26,408 votes. Unlike Cuomo who lost
Upstate (by 134,383 votes) and Schneiderman who also lost Upstate (by 122,778 votes),
DiNapoli carried Upstate (by 170,038 votes).
Contrast these 2014 returns from the results of the 2010 DiNapoli Wilson contest:
Statewide, 4,475,335 voters were cast and DiNapoli won by 202,475 votes. Wilson carried
Upstate by 337,717 votes (56-40%) and the Suburbs by 49,654 votes (51-47%), while DiNapoli
carried NYC by 589,846 votes (72-26%) in 2010.
This states political picture might be very different today if Harry Wilson had been
elected Comptroller in 2010 and certainly, if John Faso had won instead of narrowly losing to
Hevesi in 2002. If Faso had defeated Hevesi in 2002, avoided his landslide loss to Spitzer in
2006, by seeking re-election as Comptroller, the Republicans might have had a candidate well
groomed to run a winning campaign for Governor in 2018. If Faso runs for the Gibson
congressional seat in 2016, against McLaughlin in a GOP primary, it will be interesting to see if
Republican primary voter, will advance their partys prestige (picking Faso), or nominate
someone who will not advance their statewide prospects (if McLaughlin wins the primary).
To summarize, in 2014, DiNapoli carried the Hudson Valley, the North Country, the
Capital District, Central and Western New York, while only narrowly losing the Southern Tier, as
16

well as the Finger Lakes rural counties, and losing only the GLOW counties by double digits
(56-40%). Meanwhile, DiNapolis margin from just Tompkins County (9911) completely erased
the 8 county Southern Tier deficit (6874) and the Comptrollers margin from Monroe County
(20,614 votes) wiped out with room to spare his combined deficit from the five rural Finger
Lakes Counties (4,227) and the so called 4 GLOW Counties (11,759).
Overall, DiNapoli carried Upstate 53-43%, even beating Antonacci in his home county of
Onondaga (52.5% - 44% or 11,709 votes). In fact, DiNapoli carried 30 Upstate counties, losing
only 23 to Antonacci, while carrying every single major metropolitan county Upstate as well as
all 9 Downstate Counties (i.e., DiNapoli carried 39 of the States 62 Counties).
By any standard, this a strong showing, particularly Upstate, by Comptroller DiNapoli,
given the fact that so many Democratic oriented voters failed to turn out in this extraordinarily
low turnout. One suspects that DiNapolis inner circle might begin to wonder if the Comptroller
rather than the Attorney General, has a clearer path to the Governorship, should Governor
Cuomo not seek a third term.
3.

The AGs Race:

The regional breakdown in the AGs race was virtually identical to the Comptrollers
race:
Upstate
NYC
Suburbs

1,807,090
983,964
924,451
3,715,505

49%
26%
25%

The vote here was 8,653 votes higher in NYC than in the Comptrollers race, but 5,163
votes lower Upstate and 1,174 votes lower in the Suburbs than in the Comptrollers race (net of
2,316 more votes in the AGs race). On a base of 3.7 million votes, these differences were de
minimus, although a clear break with tradition, for usually the AGs vote is a smidge behind, not
ahead, of the Comptrollers vote, which has a traditional drop off of the 4-7% range from the
gubernatorial vote total. This year the drop off was under 3% from the Governors race to both
the AG (2.57%) and the Comptrollers race (2.6%). Note that in 2010, the drop off was 3.8% in
the Comptrollers race and 4.5% in the AGs race.
This empirical aberration on the fall off from the gubernatorial vote, is probably the
consequence of little enthusiasm amidst the near record low turnout in the gubernatorial race and
the fact that Schneiderman had a tad more support in NYC, while DiNapoli had a clear
advantage outside of NYC, where a full 74% of the statewide vote was cast in the undercard
races.
The macro breakdown in the AGs race was:
Schneiderman
Cahill
Jiminez/Green Party
Pierson

2,069,956
1,538,990
80,813
24,746

Cahill Margin Upstate

122,778 votes
17

(56%)
(41%)
(2%)
(1%)

Schneiderman Margin NYC


Schneiderman Margin Suburbs
Schneiderman Statewide Margin
Upstate
NYC
Suburbs
Total

Schneiderman
813,666
(45%)
779,810
(79%)
476,480
(51.6%)
2,069,656
(56%)

606,537 votes
47,207 votes
530,966 votes

Cahill
936,444
(52%)
177,273
(18%)
429,273
(46.5%)
1,538,990
(41%)

Jimenez
41,490
(2%)
26,531
(2.6%)
12,792
(1.4%)
80,813
(2%)

Pierson
15,490
(1%)
4,350
(0.4%)
4,906
(0.5%)
24,746
(1%)

Cahill narrowly led the GOP ticket in both absolute numbers and (2,111 more votes than
Astorino and 184,347 more than Antonacci) and percentage of the vote received (41% for Cahill
to 40.3% for Astorino; and 36.5% for Antonacci). Cahill also narrowly carried Long Island, but
was soundly beat in the Northern Suburbs in both Westchester and Rockland.
When you parse the numbers in the AGs race, you can see that while Schneiderman won
comfortably, he significantly underperformed when compared to DiNapoli Upstate and in the
Suburbs. I think the simple reason is that Schneiderman made mistakes: for example in Monroe
County (e.g., the botched press flap in the indictment of Maggie Brockss husband), while
suffering mildly from press criticism on Moreland and Airnb, left a lingering cloud of skepticism
if not opposition amongst voters outside NYC. DiNapoli, on the other hand, had a virtually error
free term and picked up more editorial support than Schneiderman (e.g., Newsday and some
Upstate papers). Finally, DiNapoli clearly benefited from all the time he spent cultivating
support Upstate and on Long Island, which Schneiderman simply did not do.
The Suburbs are worth detailing in the AGs race:
Nassau
Suffolk
LI Total
Westchester
Rockland
NS Total
Suburban
Total

Schneiderman
156,928
(50%)
152,180
(47.4%)
309,108
(48.6%)

Cahill
152,702
(48.5%)
161,703
(50.4%)
314,405
(49.5%)

Jimenez
3,653
(1%)
4,935
(1.5%)
8,588
(1.3%)

Pierson
1,372
(0.5%)
2,343
(0.7%)
3,795
(0.6%)

Total Vote
314,655

127,338
(59%)
40,034
(56%)
167,372
(58%)
476,480

84,506
(39%)
30,362
(42%)
114,868
(40%)
429,273

3,202
(1.5%)
1,002
(1.5%)
4,204
(1.6%)
12,792

893
(0.5%)
298
(0.5%)
1,191
(0.4%)
4,906

215,939

(51.6%)

(46.5%)

(1.4%)

(0.5%)

18

321,161
635,896

71,696
287,635
923,451

My best take on this when you distill it all down, is that a Republican strategist would say
Schneiderman with 4 more years in office, would be almost impossible to defeat for re-election
particularly if Eric Schneiderman could raise $10 million for his re-election campaign, but that in
a race for Governor if a GOP candidate could raise at least $35 million, Schneiderman might be
quite vulnerable Upstate and on LI.
A GOP strategist might see Monroe, Onondaga and St. Lawrence Counties as
foreshadowings. DiNapoli carried Monroe County by 10.5% or 20,614 votes. Schneiderman
lost it by 803 votes (95,730 for Cahill; 94,927 for Schneiderman). Similarly in Onondaga, a
bellwether county DiNapoli carried, Cahill won by 4,138 votes (65,629 for Cahill; 61,491 for
Schneiderman). In St. Lawrence which DiNapoli won comfortably, Cahill won by 1,134 votes
(12,064 for Cahill; Schneiderman 10,930).
The Schneiderman camp to its credit has adjusted to these hard facts. The AG has
stepped up its press and political outreach since November. Just since January, AG
Schneiderman has registered excellent press coverage on many fronts (ethics, not for profit
governance, the underpayment of pizza delivery drivers, grand jury reform, lost taxes due to
bootlegged cigarette sales, protecting Alzheimer patients, and a settlement with Macys on
ending racial profiling). They also brought on a talented tactician to join this staff, both in terms
of minority outreach and labor relations in Natalia Salgado (formerly of 32BJ) and a skilled
communications pro in Eric Soufer.
One suspects Team Schneiderman saw the 2014 returns as indicting no real threat for reelection in 2018, but that any serious look at running for Governor down the road required a
recalibration of the Attorney Generals political positioning. That realistic appraisal speaks well
of the Attorney Generals political sagacity.
However, I am not sure the Attorney General was helped by post-election press rumors
(albeit anonymous reports) of his interest in running a primary against Governor Cuomo, should
the Governor seek to run for a third term in 2018. Eric Schneiderman, if he wants to be a viable
candidate for Governor in 2018 or 2022, has a lot of political carpentry to master, especially
outside of NYC, which has driven the gubernatorial turnout over the last three decades. It may
not help AG Schneiderman, if every time he picks up a hammer and a screw driver to connect
those planks, if a political motive is presumed, not to mention Governor Andrew Cuomos
political team might not take kindly to the appearance of a push bordering on a putsch (i.e., and
they are not unskilled at such infighting).
Any real admirer of the Attorney Generals might see the advantage in Schneiderman
rowing with muffled oars, waiting to crow about a Governors race, until he has secured safe
political harbors along Long Islands shores, the banks of the Hudson and Mohawk river valleys
and the Great Lakes regions Upstate. In brief, the Attorney General might benefit from building
his political ship, before his boosters discuss their desire to sail.
If Eric Schneidermans capable political team, puts the desired sail before crafting a
sturdy political ship, one could foresee a tricky tide forming around the worries of Upstate and
Suburban Democrats, concerned that Eric Schneiderman does not understand how to lead the
ticket in their regions. That, in turn, could trigger political leaders outside NYC, asking either
Senator Gillibrand or Comptroller DiNapoli, who have already built the broad statewide electoral
coalitions needed to win a gubernatorial race, to consider sparing the Democratic Party a schism
19

filled contest in 2018, should Andrew Cuomo not seek a third term, particularly if the
Republicans appear on the verge of finally finding their sea legs in time for the 2018 campaign.
Yet, AG Schneiderman and his political team are probably too smart to fall into such
traps. So, in my view, it is far too soon to count Eric Schneiderman out as gubernatorial timber.
To repeat he has had an excellent first quarter in 2015, in terms of generating sustained as well as
positive press coverage. Meanwhile, it is a fact that unlike the first terms of Eliot Spitzer and
Andrew Cuomo as Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman has not yet built a cross regional
political juggernaut to at once sustain and advance his gubernatorial aspirations. Charting
Schneidermans progress over his second term as AG, on that gubernatorial score, will be worth
watching.
Conclusion
Cracking the code of the 2014 electoral returns has for me been rewarding. There are
troubling problem spots emerging on the horizon for both parties, from the shadows of the 2014
returns.
It comes down to this, can the Democrats avoid an ideological schism and/or will the
Republicans finally begin to confront the mixed conundrum of ideology and demographics?
Whichever party does a better job will have the whip hand in 2018 and into the next decade. If
both parties fail to confront these challenges with solutions, (both substantive and political) then
both parties will be vulnerable to a younger version of Mike Bloomberg running and winning as
a true Independent candidate for Governor (perhaps not in 2018, but in the next decade)
especially if that candidate were a woman.
Nor would Bloomberg himself be perfectly tapered to this mission (e.g., hindered not
only by the political scar tissue of three mayoral terms but the reality that central casting would
call for a third way candidate more attuned to the corridor linking the Northern Suburbs to the
Hudson North region and on to Central and Western New York). Although, the prospect of an
independent Bloomberg candidacy for Governor in 2018 would send shivers down the spines of
both parties and perhaps even nudge progressives and their labor allies to feel more warmly
towards Cuomo running for a third term.
But if both major parties in NYS continue to careen around the political track ignoring
their blind spots, the potential for a third party (ideologically neutral) candidate for Governor
cannot be dismissed. If that happens, William Randolph Hearst will be rolling over in his grave
in rapid revolutions, thinking he burst onto the political scene a century too soon, to realize his
dreams of being the Governor of New York.
More important than all the political machinations is the pull of governance. NYS faces
real challenges across all three regions of our state and the electorate is not likely to remain loyal
to either party, unless and until the parties govern in a way which actually improves the quality
of life within each region. Consequently, one senses that the voters soon will demand true
transformational change from Albany.
The fundamental issue facing New York State is and will continue to be how to manage
the diverse regional challenges of growth. Demographers tell us that after over a century of
being a city of just under or just over 8 million people, New York City by mid-century will hold
20

9 million people. Therefore, the enormous long term test will be housing, transporting and
educating the citys 9 million people, while pursuing sustainability in terms of the environment.
Across Upstate, the challenge is exactly the opposite, as both population and jobs are on
the decline. While there are promising shoots of growth in the greater Capital District and
Western New York regions, (surrounding Rochester and Buffalo) too much of Upstate remains in
Rust Belt decline. The state desperately needs policies which can finally jumpstart the economy
across the length and breadth of Upstate. Upstates infrastructure is in a state of aging and
chronic disrepair and a well-educated work force is essential in our newly flat world.
The Suburbs have more affluence than poverty, although suburban poverty is growing,
but the challenge becomes holding onto younger couples too often priced out of the communities
they grew up in. The goal becomes preventing generational imbalance from adversely affecting
the quality of life in suburban communities.
Poverty is a core problem within all three regions of our State. The hollowing out of the
middle class is an enduring cross regional challenge. The pragmatic approach to economic
inequality lies in finding ways to expand the middle class while protecting its purchasing power
and the quality of life of those in the middle class.
By necessity, any Governors mission in fact all of state government, should be attuned to
simultaneously addressing each of these distinct regional challenges. A Governor and a
Legislature who can make a lasting impact surmounting this varied growth challenge will carve
out an enduring legacy. Governor Andrew Cuomo is both well prepared and well versed to meet
this challenge in his second term, but success will probably require political adaptation and
purposeful policy-making.
For the foreseeable future, the politics of regionalism will become intertwined with the
varied growth challenges in New York State. The major parties and their elected officials,
especially whoever sits in the Governors office, will not be judged truly effective unless and
until they can craft the political architecture to sustain the engineering of governance to surmount
these regional growth challenges. It is quite fitting that our states politics and government will
become judged at this intersection of regional growth.
If the major parties have no long term answer to this conundrum, one can foresee the
voters down the road at once demanding and ultimately receiving an alternative approach from
an independent third way movement which can appear ready to solve the riddle of both regional
politics and growth. If, one of the major parties can provide governing answers they will
dominate the state politically. The lesson of the 2014 election is that neither party made real
strides in answering these regional riddles, leaving our states politics with an uncertain future.
Bruce N. Gyory is a political and strategic consultant, serving as a senior advisor at
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP and is an adjunct professor at the University of Albany (SUNY).
203074538.2

21