10/22: Countdown to Election Day in NY

October 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Jay DeDapper, NY State, Politics

With less than two weeks until Election Day, will the Republicans take control of the New York State Senate?  Can we expect any surprises in New York, and what will turnout be like?  The Marist Poll’s John Sparks speaks with Political Analyst Jay DeDapper about this and more.  Listen to the interview or read the transcript below.

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

John Sparks
Jay, Election Day is approaching. The last time we spoke about the New York Governor’s race, you told me it’s Andrew Cuomo’s to lose.  Now there’s been this debate, just curious, have things changed, or is the race tightening up any?

Listen to the Interview, Part 1:


Powered by Podbean.com

Jay DeDapper
If anything, it’s changed in Andrew Cuomo’s favor.  Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate, has stuck his foot in his mouth so many times that he’s run out of mouth space. He has gotten into so much trouble with so many comments and so many things he said and done that even in this Republican year, this very Republican year, this race… I don’t think you can even say, “It’s Andrew Cuomo’s to lose anymore.”  I don’t…  there’s really no conceivable way short of some unbelievable disaster on Andrew Cuomo’s part that he will not win this race.

John Sparks
You know, Jay, Andrew Cuomo isn’t the only one who has a stake in the governor’s election.  Control of the Senate is also at stake. I believe Republicans need to pick up two seats in the Senate to regain control of the majority if Cuomo is elected and only one if a Republican is elected governor.  Do you see a change in the control of the New York Senate?

Jay DeDapper
Well, the New York State Senate has been controlled by Republicans, had been controlled by Republicans, basically from the beginning of the century, the last century, the 20th Century, until two years ago.  So, there’s a lot of reason to believe that Democrats’ hold on it is tenuous.  Add to that the fact that the Democrats basically came into office taking over the state Senate for the first time and proceeded to commit fratricide by not being able to decide on a majority leader, having a war over the majority leader, when it’s finally appointing a different majority leader than the one who they thought they were going to have and then failing to accomplish much of anything.  It seems very unlikely at this point the Democrats will be able to retain control of the state Senate. That probably doesn’t mean anything at all for the way the government works because let’s face it, government in Albany doesn’t work no matter who’s in charge, and it’s going to be a tall task for Andrew Cuomo to change what three governors before him have all said they would change and failed to do.  What is at stake, though, is that the state Senate controls to some degree redistricting for congressional seats.  New York has only one Republican congressperson left. If the state Senate is controlled by Republicans, they will be able to redraw the congressional lines because New York is probably going to lose some congressional seats because of population decline, vis-à-vis other parts of the country. It looks like if Republicans were to regain control of the state Senate, which seems fairly likely, they will be able to redraw those lines to the benefit of Republicans who will likely be able to gain a couple of congressional seats and tilt the balance a little bit more towards them from a huge, huge underdog status they now face.

John Sparks
And, I believe Malcolm Smith was quoted as saying that if the Democrats retain a majority, that he would see that they would gerrymander those districts so that Republicans will be in oblivion in New York for the next 20 years.

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, I mean if the Democrats can regain or excuse me, can control the state Senate, can hold onto control, there’s no reason to believe that they would not be able to draw the districts in such a way that there would be no Republican, safe Republican congressional seats. That basically has to do with political affiliation in this state. There are very few Republicans compared to Democrats and independents. It’s five to three to one. And, so finding a Republican seat, even upstate, requires some very special work with the pen. The Republicans have been able to do that. Democrats won’t need a whole lot of effort to draw a Republican district out of existence.

John Sparks
Do you still feel that New York voters are rather lukewarm about these upcoming races.  Say like in the comptroller’s race?

Listen to Part 2:


Powered by Podbean.com

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, the comptroller’s race is an interesting one because there hasn’t been any significant polling on it. It is the second most powerful seat or the attorney general. Depending on how you look at it, the second or third most powerful statewide elected official, and it can be a very important role, especially if the comptroller is of the opposite party or is in a war with the governor. The comptroller, he or she, can be a real thorn in the side of the governor, and sometimes maybe that’s a good thing.  This race has not gotten very much attention. It has a name on the Republican line that people are going to recognize because John Faso ran for governor before, and it’s got a name on the Democratic side of a guy who’s been comptroller for the last few years but hasn’t made a whole lot of noise.  He… I’m sure he thinks he has, but it’s tough to get through the — to clear the chatter when David Paterson is your meltdown governor, and Andrew Cuomo is your attorney general hard charging on all the banks and consumer frauds and all that. I think that the DiNapoli race, the comptroller race could be a surprise. That could be where a fairly low turnout, the fairly low interest among Democrats plays for the benefit of much more excited Republicans.

John Sparks
Do you think there will be a low turnout?

Jay DeDapper
You know, I hate predicting turnout.  You know we’ve worked together a long time and seen a lot of elections, and turnout predictions almost invariably proved to be untrue. I don’t think turnout in a year where even though we have two Senate seats up, which is a historical anomaly, we’ve got a big governor’s race with a big name, and we’ve got the control of the Senate and Congress in Washington at stake, I don’t get the sense from the people in New York, from talking to people, from overhearing conversations, from seeing the buzz, I don’t get the sense that this is an energized political state right now. So, I would guess if I had to be a betting person and guess, I would put my chips down on not a very large turnout.

John Sparks
We’ve seen polls, and we hear that voters are angry, they’re ready to turn everyone out. They’re really unhappy.  I talked to one of our former colleagues, Gabe Pressman, earlier this morning.  He has been in Utica, and he said that was the sentiment in Utica. And, yet, despite all this that we hear about people not being satisfied, it does not seem like that they’re going to take the time or the energy to go to the polls to make a change.

Jay DeDapper
I mean, I don’t … when I say “low turnout,” I don’t mean that it’s going to be like primary low turnout, like in primaries where 4% or 6% of the people turn out. I just don’t think this is going to be anywhere near obviously a presidential year, and I kind of doubt that in New York it’s going to be as big as 2006, which was a very large off-year election in terms of turnout. I think what Gabe found in Utica is probably right.  Upstate, as you know, Upstate New York has been economically depressed and down at the heels for the most part, not every city, but for the most part for decades. I don’t think you could go up there even in best of times and find people that are particularly happy with government, whether it be in Albany or in Washington, and I think that those folks — I think they are motivated to vote to some degree, although no more or less motivated than they are in any other year when they’re particularly upset.  I do think that it’s worth remembering that Upstate New York is an increasingly small part of the electorate of New York State.  You only have to win New York City and either Long Island or Westchester County, and you can’t be beat.  You just can’t be beat in this state.  There’s just not enough people upstate to make a difference, and I’m not sure that activated, energized, mobilized feeling is as strong in the suburbs here or in the city.  Part of that has to do with the economy.  New York’s economy has weathered this recession better than almost any major city other than Pittsburgh and a couple of bright spots, and the suburbs, while being hit somewhat hard, it’s nothing like Arizona or California or Florida or Nevada or many of these other places where real estate has just sucked the life out of people in the economy. It hasn’t happened here and there may be anger, but it’s not the visceral anger that you see out West and in the South.

John Sparks
I’d like to take a quick look at some other races. Andrew Cuomo of course will be leaving the attorney general’s position one way one or another.  Any contest in the race for attorney general?

Listen to Part 3:


Powered by Podbean.com

Jay DeDapper
It’s possible.  Eric Schneiderman has certainly won over Democrats.  He’s fairly popular among the Democratic clubs and the folks that can get the vote out if it’s a lowish turnout.  He is popular in the suburbs.  He’s a Manhattan guy, but he’s popular enough in the suburbs, and his Republican opponent doesn’t have enough of a name or, I think, a widespread name recognition and so far not enough money to cut through the clutter.  I think that there’s always a chance that after you get past Andrew Cuomo and maybe Chuck Schumer on the ticket, I think there’s always a chance you’re going to see ticket splitters and people saying, “Screw it — throw the bums out,” and voting for Republicans. I wouldn’t think it’s going to happen in the attorney general race, but it’s always a chance.

John Sparks
Glad you mentioned Schumer. I was about to ask you, the president’s popularity has been on quite a slide. Will that translate into a problem for Schumer or Kirsten Gillibrand?

Jay DeDapper
Both Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have anemic, and that’s putting it kindly, anemic Republican opposition.  I think this is a year that if Republicans in New York State had gotten their act together and put up a really strong candidate, especially against Kirsten Gillibrand, they might have a seat in the Northeast to win.  Chuck Schumer, that’s a harder nut to crack. Schumer’s got a lot of money. He’s got a lot of popularity.  He’s a campaigner.  As you know, he works harder than anybody you’ve ever seen campaigning and governing and being on the job. He will be a tough person to beat even when Republicans manage to put up a Grade A candidate. This year they have not.  Both of those seats are very safely Democratic.

John Sparks
You know I mentioned a minute ago about the possibility of gerrymandering and redrawing congressional districts. I’m just curious about the congressional seats in New York at this time.  Any that might change hands?

Listen to Part 4:


Powered by Podbean.com

Jay DeDapper
Oh yeah. I mean, two years ago when Democrats almost swept, they almost took every seat from Republicans, and this would’ve been an entirely Democratic state as represented in Congress, That was the high water mark.  Maybe people didn’t recognize that at the time that that was the high water mark.  This year there are numerous seats that were — that are already kind of 50/50 seats. In other words, half of the people are Democratic, half are Republicans, or better put a third are Democrats, about a third are Republicans, about a third are independents.  There are actually a number of districts that way throughout the state which have elected only in the last two or four years, only in the last two cycles Democrats for the first time in many cases in decades. I think many of those seats are vulnerable. John Hall in the Hudson Valley I think is vulnerable. That’s a seat that was Republican historically.  There’s a seat outside of Albany, historically forever a Republican seat.  Since the Civil War, it was a Republican seat until a couple of terms ago. I think that’s at risk.  Tim Bishop out of the end of Long Island, Suffolk County, probably not in a huge amount of trouble, but facing an extremely wealthy self-financed candidate, and if voters in Suffolk County are angry enough, Tim Bishop could be another victim.  I think New York wakes up the day after the election with at least a couple of more Republican members of the House.

John Sparks
We’re right on top of it.  Do you see anything taking place between now and Election Day?  Politics is dynamic.  Any surprises? Anything you’ve heard of that might change your opinion about what we talked about today?

Jay DeDapper
Nothing that you can see, but that’s the nature and the excitement of politics is that you never know what’s going to happen in the final two weeks of the campaign. Typically, if it’s going to be something that another campaign, an opposing campaign knows about, you actually don’t save it till the final weekend. You start to roll it out about now because it takes a couple of weeks to take hold and to have its effect. We saw that with Chuck Schumer and Al D’Amato when Al D’Amato back in 1992 — 1998, excuse me, called Schumer a putzhead on the radio. That took a few days, about four/five days for Schumer to kind of traction on it, to work it up, that was two weeks out from the election and that was the end of D’Amato.  So, if there’s a surprise out there, if there’s somebody that’s going to screw up, this is the time they’re going to have to do it.  You get too close to Election Day and those kinds of things don’t generally happen and they don’t generally work.  I don’t see anything on the horizon, but who knows?  That’s the fun of politics.

Comments

Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!