I want to bring to your attention a phenomenon that occurred during last November’s election cycle. Maybe it is of interest to you, maybe not. Analytically though, it is interesting. And, it might be a warning of something more telling.
Here it goes.
In last November’s Gubernatorial Race, Kathy Hochul defeated Republican Lee Zeldin by five percentage points. The race ended pretty much as expected, except for one weird fact. In New York City, Lee Zeldin received more votes than there are registered Republicans. To place it into numbers, Zeldin received 111% of voters registered in the Republican and Conservative parties in NYC. For comparison, Governor George Pataki, the last Republican Governor of New York, never received more than 95% of voters registered in those parties.
What about Lee Zeldin compelled Democrats and Independents into voting Republican? Was it even about Zedin at all?
According to CityandStateNY.com, there were districts that traditionally and consistently vote Democrat where Lee Zeldin’s numbers were way higher than has ever been recorded. For example, State Assembly District 50 encompasses most of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Assemblymember in that District, Emily Gallagher, is a Democrat who ran unopposed and won. However, there were twice as many votes for Lee Zeldin in this District as there are registered Republicans. State Assembly District 48 encompasses Borough Park and Midwood. The Assemblymember in that District, Simcha Eichenstein, ran unopposed and won. There are 11,972 registered Republicans in that District. Twenty-four thousand one hundred forty-nine people voted for Lee Zeldin in that District. There are examples throughout the city where Zeldin received thousands of votes in places not generally known for voting Republican. In total, 43 out of 61 Assembly Districts in the City reported more votes for Lee Zeldin than there are registered Republicans. This phenomenon didn’t happen in one Assembly District in the 2018 election. This phenomenon didn’t happen in one Assembly District in the 2014 election.
So, what changed?
Lee Zeldin centered his campaign on public safety; his messaging in commercials focused on supporting the police and tearing away Covid-19 restrictions. Both are definite political touchpoints that might sway undecided voters, given the current climate. Those issues could explain the shift in the Orthodox Jewish and Asian communities. But what about in communities like the 42nd, which encompasses Flatbush and East Flatbush, or the 57th, which encompasses Clinton Hill and Fort Greene? Both Districts are diverse communities that still hold a slight majority of African-American voters, and both of those Districts voted for Zeldin at a rate of 115% of the registered Republicans.
But could it be something else?
Let’s go back to the 50th Assembly District. Emily Gallagher is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. She won easily unopposed, and in her District, voters voted for Zeldin at a rate double the number of registered Republicans. In the 48th Assembly District, the City Councilmember overlaps that District is Shahana Hanif. Councilmember Hanif is a DSA member. In that District, almost 13,000 more people voted for Zeldin than the number of registered Republicans there. In the 57th, Phara Souffrant Forrest and the State Senator in that area, Jabari Brisport, are both DSA members. District voters voted for Zeldin at a rate of 115%, again more people voting for him than the number of registered Republicans in that District.
Did the DSA vote Republican in the 2022 Gubernatorial Race?
Despite being named the Democratic Socialist of America, this political movement which was started as a blip on the radar during the Occupy Wall Street events of 2011 and then later as a rallying support mechanism for self-proclaimed Socialist Bernie Sanders, has proven to act be pro-capitalist and an impediment to the political independence of the working class. The idea that the masses will only be involved in a movement that already has the guarantee to bring about some form of change, including legislative change, is what the DSA has centered as its vision in NYC. The very word “socialism” automatically sparks the sentiment of change in the minds of most citizens.
But change to what? That is an answer that the DSA hasn’t given as of yet. But, if these numbers are any indication, change is indeed happening in local politics. And it is the type of change we should all be paying attention to.