Tag Archives: New York City

NY Overreach = GOP Majority

CNN’s New York state redistricting map (more coverage on CNN)

By Jim Ellis — Nov. 22, 2022

House

New York State: Redistricting — There is an argument to be made that the New York Democratic redistricting brain trust helped create the new Republican US House majority. With their over-reach on the original map that the legislature and governor enacted, the end result became so egregious that even the Democratic lower and upper courts rejected the congressional map as a pure partisan gerrymander.

The original enacted plan would have yielded a 22D-4R partisan split in the NY congressional delegation of 26 members, thus costing the Republicans four of the eight Empire State seats they control in the current Congress.

Once the votes were cast on Nov. 8 in the districts that the judges’ special master drew to replace the legislature’s plan, the end result saw Republicans not losing four seats but rather gaining three in relation to the current map and seven when compared to the Democrats’ original draw.

Therefore, instead of the intended 22D-4R plan, the New York delegation now headed to Washington is comprised of 15 Democrats and 11 Republicans. With a small Republican majority of what ultimately may be 220-222 seats once the outstanding California and Alaska races are finally projected, the NY swing is arguably the difference in determining which party controls the House.

The Democrats’ map would have reduced the Republicans to just one seat on Long Island, taken the lone district they have in New York City, turned the GOP’s Syracuse seat strongly Democratic, and collapsed the southwestern Upstate seat of resigned Rep. Tom Reed (R) as the lost district in national reapportionment.

You will remember that New York lost a congressional seat by just 89 people when the Census Bureau announced each state’s congressional district compilation under the national reapportionment formula.

After striking down the legislature’s map and replacing it with their own special master’s plan, the court in effect restored much of New York to its historic congressional district pattern.

Under the legislature’s plan, Long Island’s 1st District (Rep. Lee Zeldin) was drawn from the far eastern part of Suffolk County all the way into Queens. This led to stashing a preponderance of the region’s Republican voters in Rep. Andrew Garbarino’s (R-Sayville) South Shore 2nd District. The concept then allowed the map architects to make Districts 3 and 4, both open in 2022 with Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) running unsuccessfully for governor and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) retiring, safely Democratic. The court undid this design.

Now, the 1st District returns to a Suffolk County anchored seat, a CD that Republican Nick LaLota, a former local official and Navy veteran, won to succeed Rep. Zeldin. Rep. Garbarino is back but with a less Republican South Shore seat, which then created a marginal North Shore District 3 seat that Republican George Santos won 54-46 percent in a domain that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+4.

The biggest surprise in New York, and perhaps the country, came in Rep. Rice’s open 4th CD, where Republican Anthony D’Esposito defeated heavily favored Democrat Laura Gillen, 52-48 percent, in a district that actually became more Democratic under the court map at D+10.

The other Republican gains came in the Hudson Valley, where state Assemblyman Mike Lawler (R-South Salem) upset Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) in a D+7 District 17, and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) rebounded from a special congressional election loss in August to claim a 51-49 percent win in a new 19th District rated as R+1.

In the 18th District, state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R) came within a percentage point of sweeping the Hudson Valley seats for the GOP, but Rep. Pat Ryan (D-Gardiner) held onto the 18th CD seat after he had won the 19th District special election three months earlier.

The Republican victory string ended with tech executive Brandon Williams (R) defeating former intelligence officer Francis Conole (D) by a percentage point to hold the open Syracuse seat, and former New York Republican Party Nick Langworthy easily won the new 23rd District from which Rep. Reed resigned and Rep. Joe Sempolinski (R-Canisteo) is serving as a caretaker.

The New York 2022 election cycle illustrates just how important map drawing and judicial decisions are in determining US House elections. The New York courts, for example, created a much more competitive political playing field, which certainly led to different results than we would have seen under the legislature’s partisan draw.

Considering that the US Supreme Court is likely to make landmark Voting Rights Act rulings on the Alabama and North Carolina cases before June ends next year, we will likely see new redistricting maps being drawn in several states, and New York could be one of those places. Any newly constructed map would take effect in the 2024 election. A major Supreme Court decision will add yet another dimension to what already promises to be another hot House campaign cycle coming in the new term.

Dissecting the New York Map

The recently enacted New York congressional map (go to FiveThirtyEight.com to see fully interactive map, or click on the map above.)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 10, 2022 — The recently enacted New York congressional map is one of the most gerrymandered in the country and designed to reduce the Republican contingent to just four of 26 seats. While Republicans will no doubt challenge the map in court, some of the moves, however, will prove justifiable.

Since the Democrats control the redistricting process in only four states, national pressure came upon the party’s legislative leaders in New York, Illinois, New Mexico, and Oregon to draw the maximum partisan maps. They did so in each case, but when such a map is constructed, invariably some of the majority seats are weakened to the point of being competitive in wave election years for the opposite party. Such appears to be the case with the New York lines.

To begin, the map drawers were able to cut the Republican contingent in half by executing several fundamental strategic moves.

First, they reduced Democratic strength (even with the current map or weaker) in 15 of the current 19 party held districts but still made the seats untouchable. Second, the remaining four Republican districts saw an increase in GOP loyalty. Third, the Republicans were forced to absorb the seat the state lost in national reapportionment, and the Dems were able to take advantage of three GOP members not seeking re-election: Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley; running for governor), Tom Reed (R-Corning; retiring) and John Katko (R-Syracuse; retiring).

Using the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization’s rating of each new district, we can draw conclusions about party performance in each of the new 26 CDs.

The Democratic members receiving politically safe seats ranging from D+20 all the way to D+77 are mostly from New York City: Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens; D+54), Grace Meng (D-Queens; D+24), Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn; D+65), Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn; D+55), Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn; D+55), Jerrold Nadler (D-New York City; D+52), Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan; D+67), Adriano Espaillat (D-Bronx; D+77), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx; D+50), Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx; D+72), Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers; D+36), and Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo; D+20).

The four safe Republican seats are mostly in upstate New York, with one Long Island exception. Those seats are for Reps. Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville; R+20), Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville; R+23), Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford; R+26), and Chris Jacobs (R-Orchard Park; R+25).

The collapsed seat is actually Rep. Tenney’s current 22nd District. It was justified combining the 22nd with Rep. Reed’s 23rd because those districts, located adjacent to one another, are the two lowest in population.

The current 22nd District was then combined with Rep. Katko’s current 24th to make the new open 22nd District, which resulted in a D+13 rating and a district again anchored in Syracuse. The voting trends in the new 22nd increase from the D+4 rating that the current 24th carries.

The new draw and Rep. Reed’s retirement allows Rep. Tenney to run in the new 23rd where she will likely have to win a competitive Republican primary, but would have a safe seat in the general election. The new 23rd, however, contains only 10 percent of her current constituency.

Rep. Jacobs’ current 27th District is then pushed northward from his Buffalo and Rochester outer suburbs district into a new safely Republican 24th CD that contains just under 60 percent of his current constituency. He, too, could face GOP primary opposition but will have a safe seat for the general election.

Democrats will have a strong chance of converting open District 1 on Long Island. This seat goes from a R+10 rating that Zeldin held to a D+6. Currently, with Suffolk County Legislators Bridget Fleming and Kara Hahn in the race, along with ex-Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon who was the District 2 nominee in 2020, the Democrats have the stronger early contenders. The candidate filing deadline is not until April 7 for the June 28 primary, so the GOP has time to coalesce around a viable candidate of their own.

Rep. Tom Suozzi’s (D-Glen Cove) Long Island-anchored 3rd District increases to D+10 from D+6. He is running for governor and leaves behind a crowded Democratic primary field. The winner will face consensus Republican candidate George Santos (R) who performed surprisingly well as the 2020 nominee.

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NYC Ranked Voting – Any Difference?

NYC Democracy produced a voter palm card to help guide voters in a ranked-choice voting scenario.

By Jim Ellis

July 9, 2021 — The Ranked Choice Voting system was on major display in the New York City primary races that began with early voting on June 12 and ended yesterday with declaration of winners. Adding early voting and Ranked Choice Voting in lieu of traditional ballot casting created a 26-day election period, but did the expanded voting cycle change any results?

Ranked Choice Voting is a variation of an instant runoff, a concept that dates back to a similar system first used in Australia in 1918. The idea is to prevent a person from winning a plurality election with a just a small percentage, i.e., Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams would have won the New York City mayoral Democratic primary with 30.8 percent of the vote on the single election day of June 22 had the traditional system been in place. This means that 69.2 percent of voters chose another candidate.

Instead, after the 26-day election period, Adams still won the party nomination under Ranked Choice Voting but with a convoluted 50.5 percent majority vote at the conclusion of a marathon counting process.

For years, mostly southern states have used a runoff system to correct the problem of a candidate winning an election with a small percentage, such as NYC’s Adams’ 30.8 percent recorded on June 22. In those places, a secondary election is held between the top two finishers at a later date. Ranked Choice Voting allegedly produces a majority result, but without the expense of running a second election.

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Tuesday’s NYC Elections Results Expected to be Available Next Month

By Jim Ellis

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

June 24, 2021 — Voters in New York City reached one of the election cycle’s benchmarks Tuesday, the actual primary election day; but we are still weeks away from seeing a formal declaration of who won the races.

NYC has been notoriously slow in counting ballots in a system that is encumbered with an extra post-election period to receive absentee ballots on top of a pre-election day early voting phase. Last year, for example, it literally took six weeks to determine that Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) had been re-nominated in the 2020 Democratic primary.

This year, the city adopted the ranked-choice voting method, which even in the fastest counting jurisdictions has added days if not more than a week to determine a winner. Therefore, we will see another long, but this time better-planned, counting period.

In this 2021 election, the city clerk has published a schedule that will allow absentee ballots to be received through June 29, which also will be the release of the first round of ranked-choice results. Those figures will only be a partial count, however, because no absentee ballots will be added until after the reception deadline. More ranked-choice totals will be released on July 6, which the city official says will include “some” absentee ballots. Further, and likely final, releases will then come the week of July 12 that will include “more complete” absentee ballot counts.

All in all, the counting of the election ballots continues to be a lengthy and laborious task.

The ranked-choice system takes effect because no candidate received majority support. Now, the last-place finisher, candidate Isaac Wright, is eliminated. Officials will locate the ballots that ranked him first, and then add those voters’ second choices to the full count. If no one still reaches majority support, the next candidate with the lowest number of votes, in this case Joycelyn Taylor, will then have her 1st choice ballots located and those voters’ second choice added to the overall count. This process continues until a candidate exceeds 50 percent.

Turning to what has been reported for last night’s tabulations, as predicted, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has the lead as he has so far captured 32 percent of the counted votes. Civil rights attorney and activist Maya Wiley, with support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) and the party’s far left faction, placed second with 22 percent, just ahead of former NYC Sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia who pulled 19 percent.

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who led early in many polls, is effectively eliminated as he placed fourth with just under 12 percent of the total vote, or almost 20 full percentage points behind Adams. Since it is unlikely that the ranked-choice process would catapult him back into serious contention, Yang conceded his fate in media interviews.

In the early counting, Adams has healthy leads in four of the city’s five boroughs. He is running strongest in the Bronx, where he leads Wiley and Garcia, 45-17-10 percent. He has an eight-point lead over Wiley in his home borough of Brooklyn, tops Wiley 33-19 percent in Queens, and holds a 31-20 percent advantage over Garcia in Staten Island. The only borough where Adams trails is Manhattan, where Garcia places first with 32 percent and Adams only slots into third with 19 percent, three percentage points behind Wiley.

Adams’ lead is such that he is likely to win the Democratic primary once the weeks pass and the final count becomes known. The Adams nomination victory will foretell him winning the mayor’s office in November, as New York’s 7:1 Democrat to Republican ratio leaves little doubt as to the general election outcome.

Two other New York mayors did not fare as well as Adams in their respective Buffalo and Rochester primaries. These cities did not employ the ranked-choice system, so their results are much clearer today.

Four-term Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown appears to have lost his bid to win re-nomination for a fifth four-year term with still about 50 precincts outstanding. He will likely fall to self-proclaimed socialist India Walton. At-large Rochester City Councilman Malik Evans scored a landslide nomination victory over Mayor Lovely Warren by a virtual 2:1 margin.

In addition to the NYC mayor’s race, all 51 city council districts were also on the ballot, and each must now go through the ranked-choice counting process. To see the New York City official election results in this era of lightning quick technology, we must turn the clock all the way ahead to the week of July 12.

NYC and Ranked Choice on Ballot

NYC Democracy produced a voter palm card to help guide voters in a ranked-choice voting scenario.

By Jim Ellis

June 22, 2021 — New York City Democrats go to the polls today to cast their ballots in the party’s mayoral primary as 13 candidates compete to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). With voter registration figures giving Democrats an almost 7:1 advantage, there is little doubt that the eventual Democratic primary winner will win the mayoral general election on Nov. 2.

More, however, is on the ballot than just deciding which of the candidates will advance into the Autumn election. The Democrats are using a ranked choice voting system that has been tried in other places around the county, such as the state of Maine and 32 mostly local jurisdictions. With 13 candidates vying for the mayoral nomination, however, and at least four being within the margin of error in the most recent polling, this New York City race could be the system’s most significant test.

Ranked Choice Voting is an electoral procedure where voters rank the candidates in their order of preference. In this case, Democratic voters will record their first preference with the number 1, and then follow through individually with the remaining dozen.

The system works as follows: when the ballots are fully counted, assuming no one receives an outright majority, which is a virtual certainty with so many candidates in contention, the 13th-place finisher will be eliminated from further competition. Election officials will then locate all ballots where the last place finisher was chosen first. Those voters’ second choices are then recorded and added to the original count. This process continues until a top candidate reaches the 50 percent plateau.

Considering that New York City election officials took six weeks to determine a winner in Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-Manhattan) 12th District congressional Democratic primary last year, for example, this complicated counting process could go on for some time before a winner is ultimately announced.

Pollsters attempted to gauge the voters’ ranked choice predilections in rather complicated questioning, and most estimated that the counting process would consume 10-12 rounds. Polling accuracy is unclear at this point because few research firms have attempted to measure the ranked choice system. Therefore, today’s race could have a wild card ending especially when voters go deep into their ratings.

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