New York could face ‘political earthquake’ come Election Day

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Payne Horning / WRVO News (File Photo)

(WRVO) – With Election Day right around the corner, what might we expect to see once the polls close?

Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University, said the momentum during the midterms has moved behind Republican candidates.

“I’m reasonably certain in saying the Republicans are going to take back the House of Representatives,” Reeher said. “I even think they’ve got a real shot at taking back the Senate as well, and then that just creates really deep complications for how the Democrats approach the presidential election in 2024.”

Reeher said one race to watch closely is New York’s 22nd Congressional District, saying this area of upstate New York is often considered a bellwether for the nation. He said on paper Democratic candidate Francis Conole should win, yet some polls show Republican Brandon Williams as the favored candidate.

“If you look at the way the district was redrawn, if you look at the spending, if you look at the ideological makeup of the two candidates and how they fit against the district, it really on paper would be surprising for [Williams] to win,” Reeher said. “If he goes on and maintains this lead that he’s got and wins, whether it’s by a small margin or by a more comfortable margin. I think that’s going to be a really big story for this area and for the country.”

Another race Reeher said to watch is the governor’s race as polls show it tightening. He said if you looked at the race six months ago, you would have thought it would be pretty tough for Governor Kathy Hochul to lose against an opponent like Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island).

“If Lee Zeldin were to beat Kathy Hochul, that would be basically a political earthquake in the state of New York,” Reeher said. “That would change the whole complexion of how the state’s politics are going to go in the next four years.”

A poll released in mid-October out of Quinnipiac University showed Hochul leading Zeldin 50 – 46 percent.

“I think the Republicans are going to overperform relative to what the expectations were at least a few weeks ago,” Reeher said.

Reeher said Democrats have tried to push messaging like a vote for a Democrat is a vote in favor of democracy as well as social policies like abortion access, but those issues may not have enough sway with independent voters.

“It’s looking like it may be rather the economy and worries about the economy and concerns that the Democrats are the better party to be managing the economy, which may be the thing that is resonating more with those independents. And if that’s the case, I think the Democrats could be in for a long night on election night.”

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