Monday, November 8, 2010

Democrats Sweep NY Statewide Races - NY State Senate in Doubt

All of the statewide races in New York were won by Democrats, but the control of the New York State Senate remains in doubt.

Democratic Statewide Sweep

Democrats won all of the statewide electoral contests in New York in 2010. Andrew Cuomo won the race for Governor easily, and with similar ease, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer were sent back to the US Senate.

The tighter races for Attorney General and State Comptroller were also won by Democrats with Eric Schneiderman, a Manhattan State Senator, winning the Attorney General race by more than ten percentage points and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli retaining his role by just two percentage points.

The top of the ticket set the tone. The Republican nominee for Governor, Carl Paladino, started out the post-primary campaign with poll numbers that suggested a tight race despite his low name recognition and lack of experience in elected office. But, as voters became aware of Paladino's love of racist and sexist emails, his unstable behavior on the campaign trail, and his aggressive anti-homosexual rhetoric, his poll numbers dropped, undermining the entire Republican statewide slate and handing a sweep to the Democrats.

State Senator and now Attorney General-elect Eric Schneiderman appeared to be trailing in the polls on the eve of the election but won the election by a wide margin. Schneiderman's victory can be attributed to both the Paladino problem faced by the Republicans and to the intense collaboration between the Schneiderman campaign and the Cuomo campaign.

DiNapoli did not have the support of Cuomo and found himself in the tightest of all of the statewide races, but the Democrat DiNapoli was victorious nonetheless.

State Senate Control In Doubt

The Democrats controlled the New York State Senate by only two seats (32 to 30) in the last session. Thus far in the 2010 election, the Democrats have won 29 seats, and the Republicans have won 30 seats. There are three seats that are still too close to call. In two of the three, Republicans lead by hundreds of votes with thousands of absentee votes yet to be counted. In one of the three, the math is reversed - the Democrat leads by hundreds.

The Democrats need to win two of the three disputed seats in order to have an equal 31 - 31 split of the State Senate seats and retain control through the tie-breaking votes of the state's Lt. Governor (a Democrat elected along with Cuomo).

If the the Republicans win more than one of the three seats in dispute, they become the leaders of the New York State Senate.

Redistricting on the Horizon

All of the Congressional district boundaries, all of the Assembly boundaries, and all of the State Senate boundaries will be redrawn in 2011 based on the 2010 Census by the New York State Legislature. If the Democrats retain the State Senate, their control of the Governor's Mansion and both houses of the State Legislature would provide the Democratic Party an unchecked role in redrawing all of the lines for the elections in our state of the next ten years.

If the Republicans gain control of the State Senate, the Republicans will have the leverage to push for lines that provide them with an advantage in future State Senate elections (and perhaps in some other races as well).

Therefore, the party that wins the three disputed State Senate elections may use those victories to reshape our state's electoral map to reinforce its control of the Senate and improve its ability to win US House and State Assembly seats as well.

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