ONEONTA, NY (WSKG) – The race in New York’s 19th congressional district is one of the tightest in the country.
The 19th covers part of the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley and includes Otsego, Delaware and part of Broome County.
But in this split district, President Donald Trump might matter more than either Republican incumbent John Faso or Democratic challenger Antonio Delgado. When you talk to folks pushing for Congressman Faso to get out of office this November, you hear a lot of this:
“He’s basically a Trump clone. He votes with him like 86 percent of the time,” said Emilio Gironda.
“I feel like he and most of his party have been enabling what’s going on,” said Steve Busch.
Both spoke this spring at a protest outside of Faso’s office in Kingston.
Faso actually votes in line with Trump about 90 percent of the time. That’s according to FiveThirtyEight, a data analysis website. That’s much lower than many Republicans in Congress. Take Claudia Tenney in the neighboring 22nd District. She votes with Trump about 97 percent of time.
For Faso, it’s not so much how often he’s in line with the President, but what the issues are. For example, he says some of those bills that FiveThirtyEight aligns with the “Trump Agenda” are for things he considers bipartisan, like opioid treatment and defense spending.
“I think if most fair-minded people would look at the list of bills, most people in our district would find my number to be pretty much about right,” Faso said. “Regardless of whether they’re a Democrat or a Republican.”
Faso has separated himself from the President on some issues. For example he voted “no” on the tax bill and “yes” on sanctions for Russia.
But, the specifics of Faso’s record might not matter.
Neither do the opinions of Antonio Delgado.
This year is more about how people feel about Trump.
“Congressional elections are increasingly nationalized,” said Laurel Elder, a political science professor at Hartwick College in Oneonta, Ny. “This means they’re essentially about Donald Trump. They’re about the President and it matters very little who the actual candidates are.”
The 19th district went for President Trump in 2016. It also went for President Obama in 2012. That makes sense considering the district is nearly split between Republican and Democratic voters. That’s why Elder says you can throw any prediction for this race out the window. We don’t know which party will turn out more.
“It’s a guessing game right now,” Elder explained. “People are saying ‘oh, the Democrats are really enthusiastic.’ Other people are saying that the Supreme Court nomination really fired up the Republicans. The truth is we don’t know. There’s not a good way to measure who’s actually going to turn out to vote.”
The latest Spectrum News/Siena College Poll reflects that. It has Faso hanging on to a one-point lead with less than two weeks until Election Day.