Suspense in New York election lies in down-ballot races

Nov 8, 2016

New York is poised to elect Hillary Clinton for president and give Chuck Schumer a fourth term as U.S. senator, but down-ballot races for Congress and state Senate are less certain.


Clinton is leading Donald Trump by double digits in New York, but the race has tightened in the final days. Clinton is still ahead by 17 points, but the two are now even among independent voters, according to a poll by Siena College issued Nov. 6.

Clinton backers have maintained their get-out-the-vote efforts, despite her lead. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is featured in a robocall to voters in the New York City suburbs and some upstate cities. Cuomo held rallies in Westchester, Long Island and Buffalo over the weekend, saying a lot is at stake.

“New York has got to be loud and proud this election day,” Cuomo said, “because in truth, Trump is un-New York.”

Cuomo assailed Trump’s positions on immigration, women and what he calls trickle-down tax cuts for the rich.

Cuomo also is campaigning for select down-ballot Democrats running for the state Senate. He’s made the strongest effort yet to campaign for Democrats in the Legislature’s upper chamber since he’s been governor, and he urged supporters to make sure voters come out and vote Democratic.

“We’re going to knock for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, and that whole ballot from the top to the bottom,” Cuomo said.

Republicans in the state Senate currently are one seat short of holding the majority, and they are not favored to gain the seats needed to hold a comfortable numerical margin.

Credit Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

The future of the Senate is most dependent, though, on a group of breakaway Democrats. In the past, they have formed a ruling coalition with the GOP, but this year, if Democrats win more seats, they may be pressured by Cuomo and other Democrats to join with the regular Democrats.

The state has several close congressional races, but one contest that is not likely to be a surprise is the campaign for U.S. Senate, where incumbent Democrat Chuck Schumer is 40 points ahead of his Republican opponent, Wendy Long.

Schumer, while saying he’s not taking anything for granted, has not run a traditional campaign, preferring instead to continue traveling the state and making numerous public appearances, as he’s always done.

“The best way to get re-elected is to just do your job,” Schumer said. “I’m not overtly campaigning.”

Long, a conservative New York City attorney, has only a fraction of the money that Schumer has in his campaign fund, but she’s made a number of appearances, including at a rally of women for Trump in mid-October. She said she knows the odds are against her.

“But it’s a road that’s well worth traveling,” Long said on Oct. 12. “Because I believe our country’s at stake.”

The bigger uncertainty in the Senate contest is whether Schumer will be the majority or minority leader, depending on whether Democrats or Republicans win much closer races for Senate in other states.