New York’s Disappearing Voters

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During my lifetime, for the even years when we are not voting for president but voting for such important officials like Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, US Senate, Congress, State Senate and State Assembly, New York State’s voter turnout of registered voters has been cut in half. Yes, when I was a little 3-year-old back in 1966, the voter turnout for those that chose a Governor in an exciting four-way race between Nelson Rockefeller (Republican), Frank O’Connor (Democrat), Paul Adams (Conservative) and Franklin Deleno Roosevelt Jr. (Liberal) was over 60%. Our recent race between Andrew Cuomo (Democrat), Rob Astorino (Republican) and Howie Hawkins (Green) had the lowest turnout election watchers can remember – about 31% of registered voters. See chart above for voter turnout in Governor election years since 1966. (Note: it’s possible turnout from 1966 to 1990 was a bit higher as it was difficult to track down the exact data, but I believe my percents are good estimates).

It’s shocking that so many New Yorkers are failing to respect their civic duty to let their voices be heard on Election Day. We can all speculate about the reasons for this massive drop in voting: negative campaigns, people turned off by modern day politics or working too hard/no time to vote, so many uncontested races, or New York’s embarrassing political corruption. But frankly, as a very busy person who always finds time to study the candidates and make it to the polls, there is just no excuse for failing to vote.  Less than one-third of New York’s registered voters just picked our federal and state elected representatives. As a comparison, North Carolina, which did have massive amounts of money spent on one of the featured US Senate races, had a 44% turnout. I worked on Governor George Pataki’s exciting victory in 1994 and that campaign had a much more respectable turnout of 53%. Election Day 2014 was not a victory for democracy in New York State.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

NERVOUS NITA SPENDS $1M AS ANGRY SUBURBANITES AID ASTORINO

By Ryan Karben

Seething suburban voters are threatening the re-election prospects of longtime Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) and markedly constraining the margin of victory for Governor Andrew Cuomo. The vaunted Democratic get-out-the-vote operation will likely carry the day in the end, but it is battling some of the most pissed off people in America.

Affluent and Angry for Astorino

Money certainly isn’t buying happiness for affluent suburban voters- and their discontent may be enough to allow Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino to deliver an embarrassing loss to Cuomo in Westchester County, where Astorino is the current chief executive and Cuomo lives. Cuomo carried Westchester with 66% of the vote in 2010.

Westchester residents and other voters in the New York City suburbs are super-sour about the state of the union. According to a survey conducted ten days ago by the Siena College Polling Institute, 69% of suburban voters think the United States is going in the wrong direction.

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(And the more you make, the more pessimistic you are- voters making more than $100,000 are 40% more likely to think things are going poorly than those making $50,000 or less.)

Despite their persistent foul mood about the nation’s direction, Sienna’s pollsters found as recently as a month agothat suburban voters still believed New York State was going in the right direction.

But the newer data shows that suburbanites are gloomy about New York too. Last week, Siena reported that voters in the suburbs now believe the state is headed in the wrong direction by a margin of 53 to 40.

Even in economically challenged upstate, voters who believe things are in the state are going in the wrong direction only narrowly edge those with a positive view. And it’s a world away from New York City, where voters who believe things are going well outnumber those think they aren’t by a 20-point margin.

This suburban angst steams from a politically toxic brew of relentless property tax hikes, anxiety over diversifying schools and shock over seemingly ceaseless land development. Despite a Cuomo-enacted 2% cap on property tax increases, well-to-do retirees and new suburban homeowners both blame state government for property tax bills exceeding $15,000 a year.

Intensifying suburban discontent is lifting Astorino’s suburban support. Astorino now edges out Cuomo by 2 points in the suburbs (46-44) after trailing him in the region by 19 points (33-52) in September.

That means nearly every suburban voter who made up their mind in the past four weeks opted for Astorino. The Republican made six stops in Suffolk County Sunday and may put the county in his win column on November 4th despite a nearly certain statewide loss.

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