On election night, right after the polls closed New York State was called for Vice President Joe Biden, yet down ballot the state Republican Party celebrated a comeback of sorts, picking up seats in Congress and in the state legislature.
Biden garnered 3.7 million votes, some 56 percent of the votes cast, yet he only carried 13 of New York State’s 62 counties, running up his vote total in four of New York City’s four boroughs and upstate cities.
Meanwhile, President Trump commanded lopsided totals in dozens of the state’s more rural counties along with big wins in suburban ones like Nassau and Rockland while getting close to two thirds of the votes cast on New York City’s Staten Island.
Days after the election, over one million absentee ballots were still being processed leaving the final outcome of many races still up in the air. But preliminary results indicated that Biden’s success in the Empire State had not translated into a blue wave, with Democrats actually losing ground in the state and unable to hold big gains they had made in 2018.
City & State reported, that while New York State’s level of voter participation improved in absolute terms, it ranked 39th in voter turnout with just 57.2 percent of registered voters casting a ballot. Just 65.3 percent of eligible New Yorkers are registered to vote, ranking it 30th in terms of citizen engagement.
While Trump lost to former Vice-President Biden by 850,000 votes statewide, the sitting president’s performance produced down ballot momentum in several key Congressional races and state legislative contests In Staten Island’s 11th CD, which also extends to portions of southern Brooklyn, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican, appeared to have easily bested incumbent Democrat Rep. Max Rose, who had won the seat in 2018.
Malliotakis, who was endorsed by the police unions, cast her Democratic centrist opponent as being anti-police, linking him to fellow Democrat Mayor de Blasio and the several days of rioting and looting in New York City that were set off amidst the protests of the police murder of George Floyd. In the close of the campaign, Rose attempted to counteract the impact of being linked with de Blasio and went so far as to cut a TV commercial proclaiming de Blasio was “the worst Mayor New York City has ever had.”
The district is a so-called swing district and is home to a significant number of New York City cops, firefighters and more conservative union households who have been put off by the rising prominence of the state’s Democratic, left-wing candidates, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This time out, in a her first bid to defend her seat won in 2018, Ocasio-Cortez prevailed by more than a two to one over her opponent John Cummings, a former NYPD officer and Catholic High School teacher in a race that costs $27 million, making it the nation’s second most expensive House race.
In addition to Ocasio-Cortez’s lopsided win, Democrats celebrated the election of New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres (15th CD) to the House of Representatives along with Rockland County attorney Mondaire Jones, who won in the 15th CD.
Torres and Jones are the first openly gay Black members of the House of Representatives. But Democrats lost ground on Long Island and in upstate New York where Republicans held the seats their party has historically held in Congress and picked up several seats in the state legislature which still remains under Democratic control.
In a statement, New York State GOP chair Nick Langworthy said his party’s “incredible victories restored Republican representation in New York City” while “blocking Democrats from a Senate super-majority” in Albany. “We are still tallying the final votes of many races, but one thing is certain: the New York Republican Party won big even in so-called ‘blue’ areas where Democrats' enrollment outnumbered us,” Langworthy said. “Republicans won in New York City and its suburbs, in the Hudson Valley, the capital region and across upstate from the North Country to the Mohawk Valley to the Southern Tier.”
On WAMC, public radio for the Albany capital region, Governor Andrew Cuomo blamed the Republican strategy that included their TV ads featuring “de Blasio’s picture all over the state” along with current video footage of “looting, and crime and homelessness” in New York City “That was their message, and it resonated more than it should have,” Cuomo said. “It shouldn't have been this close."