Politics of New York

The Politics of New York State tend to be more liberal than in most of the rest of the United States (except New England states for example), with in recent decades a solid majority of Democratic voters, concentrated in New York City and its suburbs, and in the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. Republican voters, in the minority, are concentrated in more rural Upstate New York, particularly in the Adirondack Mountains, the Finger Lakes area and in parts of the Hudson Valley. Despite the imbalance in registration, New York voters have shown a willingness to elect relatively centrist Republicans to local offices, though rarely in recent years to the Presidency.

tate political offices and electoral trends

Party trends and geography

The balance of the parties was formerly less decided, with a large Democratic majority in populous New York City, Rochester and Buffalo, but Republican dominance in the upstate and Long Island. Historically, the only Democratic outpost in upstate New York was Albany. In recent years, with the political transformation of former Republican strongholds of Long Island, the Hudson Valley and the Syracuse area, New York has grown more reliably Democratic. In particular, Nassau County and Westchester County currently have Democratic county executives for only the second time in a few decades.

The enrollment of the various parties in New York State is as follows, according to the New York State Board of Elections annual report of 2006:
*Democratic: 5,507,928
*Republican: 3,130,122
*Independence: 345,957
*Conservative: 154,202
*Liberal: 66,672
*Right to Life: 40,278
*Green: 35,804
*Working Families: 34,289
*Libertarian: 1,061
*Marijuana Reform: 173

Party balance in state legislatures

Democrats hold a 63-seat supermajority in the State Assembly, whose current speaker is Sheldon Silver of lower Manhattan. They have been in the majority since 1975 and for all but five years since 1959. Republicans hold a narrow one-seat majority in the State Senate, where they have held a majority since 1939, except for a brief period in 1965. The Senate Majority Leader is Dean Skelos of Nassau County. The Minority Leader is Malcolm Smith of Queens who replaced David Paterson of Manhattan upon his ascension to office as Lieutenant Governor.

While the Assembly's apportionment strongly favors New York City, Buffalo, Rochester and the Capital District, the Senate has traditionally been dominated by the more conservative upstate region; only four Democrats represent districts in the Upstate. However, the Republicans have lost many Senate seats in recent years because of the aforementioned political realignments of the New York City suburbs and Syracuse, and Democrats came close to gaining control of the Senate in 2006.

2006 elections

The current Governor of New York State is David Paterson, Eliot Spitzer's former Lieutenant Governor. Spitzer won the 2006 election but recently announced his resignation from the position of Governor due to his involvement in a prostitution ring. He was elected by a large margin in 2006. Both U.S. Senators are Democrats, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The previous Governor was a Republican, George Pataki, who defeated incumbent Democrat Mario Cuomo in 1994 and was re-elected twice by wide margins. Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato served until he was defeated in 1998 and before him long-time Senator Jacob Javits also served as a Republican, although he ran as a Liberal in 1980. Republican Congressmen William E. Miller and Jack Kemp were both from New York and were running mates for Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Bob Dole in 1996 respectively (though Kemp's appearance on the ballot occurred after his service in Congress). Despite the strong Democratic presence in New York City, Republican Rudolph Giuliani served two terms as mayor, and Michael Bloomberg was elected as a Republican twice, the first time being in 2001 and then again in 2005. He has since become an independent.

In 2006, Democrats made gains across the state, building on their existing majority. While Democrats had already been a strong force in the New York City area, most of the Democratic gains in 2006 occurred upstate. Democrat Eliot Spitzer won a landslide victory to replace George Pataki as Governor, defeating John Faso 69-29%—the second-largest victory for a statewide candidate in New York history. Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton, Andrew Cuomo and Alan Hevesi won the US Senate, Attorney General and State Comptroller races by wide margins respectively. For the first time in over 60 years, all major statewide elected offices are held by Democrats.

Republicans kept control of the State Senate, but lost the seat of Republican Nicholas Spano in Westchester County, and lost a Long Island seat in a 2007 special election, and an upstate seat in 2008. Democrats also gained three seats to build on their supermajority in the State Assembly. Republicans did gain a seat in the Assembly in 2007 in a special election in Upstate New York.

Democrats also won three Republican held congressional seats, all in Upstate New York. Democrat Michael Arcuri won the open seat of retiring Republican Sherwood Boehlert in the 24th Congressional District, which stretches across Central New York from Utica to Oneonta to the Finger Lakes. Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand defeated Republican incumbent John Sweeney in the 20th Congressional District, which includes Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls and takes in most of the upper Hudson Valley. Democrat John Hall defeated Republican incumbent Sue Kelly in the 19th Congressional district in the Lower Hudson Valley outside New York City. Of the nine Republican incumbents up for reelection in 2006, only one, John McHugh in the 23rd district (the far northern region of the state) managed to win reelection with over 60% of the vote. Republicans James Walsh of Syracuse, Tom Reynolds of Clarence and Randy Kuhl of Bath all won re-election by narrow margins.

*Election results, New York governor
*Election results, New York Attorney General

Current issues

Same-sex marriage is not recognized in the state. Since 2004 the public pension systems of both the state and New York City allocate benefits in recognition of same-sex marriages performed outside New York. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer stated he would introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. On April 27, 2007 then-Governor Spitzer unveiled such bill. In May 2008, Governor David Paterson issued a directive that the state recognize same-sex marriages that were approved elsewhere. [http://wcbstv.com/local/local_story_117152556.html]

New York and national politics

Democrats Al Smith, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and W. Averell Harriman served as governor, as did Republicans Thomas Dewey and Nelson Rockefeller, who was elected four times. Progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt was Governor of New York before being elected Vice President in 1900.

Congressional delegation

New York's delegation to the House of Representatives leans strongly Democratic. In fact, Republicans have not held a majority of New York House seats since the 1950s. This is due almost entirely to the Democrats' near-total domination of local politics in New York City; all but one of the city's 13 congressional districts is represented by a Democrat. With the defeats of Republican incumbents Sue Kelly and John Sweeney and a Democratic victory in the open seat of Sherwood Boehlert in 2006, New York sent 23 Democrats and six Republicans to the 110th Congress. The number of Republicans is less than half the number New York sent to the House of Representatives only a decade ago. Democrats hold all but one seat on Long Island, and hold every House seat in the Hudson Valley.

This recent Democratic dominance may be explained by the increasing conservatism of the national Republican Party. With few exceptions, upstate New York and Long Island have historically been dominated by a moderate brand of Republicanism, similar to that of neighboring New England. Historically, Republicans also had at least a fighting chance in three of New York City's districts. However, aside from Staten Island, Republicans have not been competitive in the city's districts since the early 1990s.

Since the early 1990s, many voters in traditional Republican strongholds such as Long Island, Syracuse and the Hudson Valley have been willing to support Democratic candidates at the national level. In addition to New York City, Democrats have a nearly unbreakable hold on local politics in Rochester, the Capital District and Buffalo. New York City, for instance, has not been carried by a Republican presidential candidate since 1924. The other three areas only support Republican presidential candidates during landslides.

U.S. Senators

Currently, New York is represented in the U.S. Senate by Chuck Schumer of Brooklyn and Hillary Clinton of Westchester County, both Democrats.

Over the last century, New York elected Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Robert F. Kennedy as well as Conservative Senator James Buckley. New York politics have recently been dominated by downstate areas such as Westchester County, New York City and Long Island, where a majority of the state's population resides. No US Senator has come from upstate since Charles Goodell, who served from 1968-1970 (Goodell was from Jamestown), however, Goodell was appointed and never elected meaning no US Senator has been elected from upstate since Kenneth Keating in 1958. Keating was from the Rochester area.

Schumer's victory over Republican Al D'Amato in 1998 gave the Democrats both of the state's Senate seats for the first time since 1892. In 2004, conservative Michael Benjamin battled with the New York Republican State Committee for a chance to run against Schumer, which decided in August 2004 there would be no primary and selected moderate Assemblyman Howard Mills as the Republican candidate. [http://t0llenz.blogspot.com/2005/11/remember-senate-2004.html Remember Senate 2004] , November 20, 2005.] Benjamin publicly accused New York GOP Chairman Sandy Treadwell and Governor George Pataki of trying to muscle him out of the Senate race and undermine the democratic process. [http://web.archive.org/web/20040807054126/www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=222422&category=CAPITOL&BCCode=&newsdate=2/25/2004 Senate hopeful claims GOP bosses snubbed him] . "Albany Times-Union", February 25, 2004.] Many Republican voters were upset when Benjamin was denied the chance to engage in a primary. [ Petition to Open the NY Republican Primary for Senator] , retrieved on July 19, 2007.] Benjamin also had significant advantages over Mills in both fundraising and organization. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/10/nyregion/10MEMO.html?ex=1069488245&ei=1&en=c48980dea4228062 He's Spoiling for a Chance to Take On Schumer] . Hernandez, Raymond. "New York Times", November 10, 2003.] Schumer won the largest victory ever recorded for a candidate running statewide in New York against Mills, carrying all but one of the state's counties.

Many New York Republicans were irked again in 2006 when a similar situation unfolded as the state party decided to nominate Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro over conservative lawyer Ed Cox, even though Cox had raised over 1.3 million dollars to Pirro's $400,000. In 2006, Clinton won the third largest victory ever recorded statewide, carrying all but four counties. In both cases, Schumer and Clinton didn't face serious opposition. There has not been a Republican primary for Senator since 1990..

Presidential elections

In the past, New York was a powerful swing state, forcing presidential candidates to invest a large amount of money and time campaigning there. New York State gave small margins of victory to Democrats John F. Kennedy in 1960, Hubert Humphrey in 1968, Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Michael Dukakis in 1988, as well as Republicans Herbert Hoover in 1928, Thomas Dewey in 1948 and Ronald Reagan in 1980. Until the 1970 United States Census, it had the most votes in the U.S. Electoral College.

Today, although New York is still the third largest prize in the Electoral College with 31 votes, it is usually considered an uncontested "blue state"--meaning that it is presumed safe for the Democrats. The last time a Republican made a serious effort in the state was George H.W. Bush in 1988. Since 1992, the national Republican Party has effectively ceded New York to the Democrats. In addition, despite having a Republican governor for 12 years, New York appears to have trended more Democratic.

Even in the days when New York was considered a swing state, Republicans usually had to win or do reasonably well in the state's four biggest metropolitan areas to have a realistic chance of carrying the state.

The challenges of New York presidential candidates

New York politicians have historically tended to loom large on the national political scene, reflecting the importance of the state, and more presidential candidates have been governor of New York than anything else. Although local politicians are often prominently featured in the national media, because of New York's current political orientation they face some special challenges when seeking national office.

Prominent Republicans like Pataki and Giuliani tend to be moderate on most social issues. This poses substantial electoral difficulties in more conservative states, especially in the South. Even if a New York Republican could win the New York primary, the possibility of winning a very Democratic home state in the general election would still be a great challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity.

Prominent Democrats, such as Senators Schumer and Clinton, though often among the leaders of the national party, have little to offer in home-state advantage in a general election where the state is already presumed Democratic. Indeed, it would usually be considered a serious tactical and strategic blunder for a Democratic presidential candidate to select a running mate from New York. They would also be presumed as being too liberal for the tastes of other states.

ee also

*Government of New York City
*Politics of Long Island
*Presidential election 2004 results, New York
*Presidential election 2000 results, New York


ee also

*Electoral reform in New York

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