The Newsletter That Never Sleeps- Edition #10, 6/24/21
The people have spoken.. and they must be punished. It’s…
THE NEWSLETTER THAT NEVER SLEEPS
- Your weekly five borough briefing -
This is the tenth edition of The Newsletter That Never Sleeps, from June 24th, 2021. Any new subscribers can read all previous editions, which include breakdowns of local races, ranked choice voting, public safety and COVID recovery here. Welcome!
The polls have closed, the precincts have been reported, and, unless you’re reading this next Tuesday, we don’t who won anything. But fear not- we’ll have answers soon enough. In this abbreviated post-mortem edition of The Newsletter That Never Sleeps, we’ll take a look at the aftermath of the marquee races, when we’ll know definitely when we’ll that Eric Ada- I mean, the next Mayor, has won their primary, and what this election means for NYC in the next few years.
We’re still working with incomplete data here, so we can’t draw too many conclusions, but we can deign a lot from what we saw on Tuesday night. Let’s get into it.
WHAT WE KNOW FROM ELECTION NIGHT
Before rain began to fall throughout the city in the early afternoon, hundreds of candidates for local office poured onto the streets of New York with campaign staffers, volunteers and members of the press to turn out as many voters as possible for a primary that, historically, bears extremely low turnout.
As of today, it appears that a little under 800,000 New Yorkers went to the polls, either on Election Day or for early-in person voting. That’s well past the raw numbers for 2013, when the race at the top of the ticket seemed a foregone conclusion; by this Primary Day 2013, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was polling ahead of his nearest rivals by double digits, as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s campaign had crashed and burned and former Rep. Anthony Weiner, well… you know.
The title card in 2021, though, only got more volatile as the contenders sprinted to the finish line. Though Andrew Yang entered the race with a seemingly insurmountable polling lead, a number of poorly thought out management decisions (more on that below) and highly visible gaffes sent him spiraling out of the frontrunner’s spot.
Borough President Eric Adams continued to build a lead over his closest opponents, though the new system of ranked choice voting meant that Maya Wiley, a civil rights lawyer around whom progressives had very recently decided to coalesce, and Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner who had leaped from last place to the top tier after a number of high profile media endorsements, still had a very real shot of winning the race when all was said and done. And then, there was the possibility that Andrew Yang could really pull this one off.
THE MAYOR’S RACE
With the vast majority of precincts from Election Day and early voting counted, Eric Adams is feeling pretty good. And with good reason; he leads the initial count of first ranked choices at 31.7%, a lead of 9.4% over Maya Wiley, and 12.2% over Kathryn Garcia.
Things could go wrong for Eric Adams in the final rounds of RCV- maybe Adams doesn’t appear as a second or third choice on a lot of ballots- but with such a large lead, and a pretty commanding performance across all five boroughs, that’s not super likely.
The Adams campaign, as well as rival campaigns, all sort of agree that Adams’ magic number to stay 100% safe from losing in the RCV count is a 10 point lead. So while not completely out of the woods, it would take something truly shocking for Adams to lose this race.
Adams’ lead may shrink a bit as absentee ballots, which are due by June 29, are counted. Cross-maps from absentee ballot returns during the 2020 Election and voter turnout in the 2021 Primary show that voters who requested absentee ballots largely live in areas that are friendly to Kathryn Garcia, mostly the Upper East Side and Midtown.
That may also affect who faces off against Adams in the final round- Maya Wiley, who did extremely well in gentrified parts of Brooklyn, most of Queens, and Harlem, sits at 22.3% of the vote. She leads Kathryn Garcia, who is sitting a bit under 20%, by a little more than 22,000 votes. Around 200,000 absentee ballots were sent out, but 200,000 ballots will almost certainly not be returned to the Board of Elections.
While the returned ballots will probably favor Garcia, who dominated most of Manhattan south of Harlem and working class White outerborough neighborhoods, it may not be enough of a boost to put her in a competitive position with Eric Adams, or even Maya Wiley.
Everywhere else that Maya Wiley and Kathryn Garcia didn’t win, though, Adams reigns supreme. He absolutely clobbered any and all competition in the Bronx, where he leads Maya Wiley by nearly 30%. Working class neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn went overwhelmingly for Adams, and he even managed to win Staten Island, meaning that certain White voters may have warmed up to Adams at the last minute.
New York City is a coalition town; you can’t win a citywide race with just the support of one or two ideological or racial demographics. Eric Adams seems to have genuinely put together a successful, winning coalition of older Black voters, Hispanic voters, outerborough Whites, members of labor and moderate voters. It was how Joe Biden won, it’s how Cuomo won, and it seems it’s how Adams likely pulled off a solid victory this Tuesday.
But what became of Andrew Yang? You may or may not have seen his concession speech circulating online, when it became clear that he wasn’t going to break 12% of the vote, even after doing pretty well in Flushing and parts of Staten Island that are home to a lot of Asian voters.
He somehow managed to underperform his polling, which already had him doing pretty poorly across the city. It seems that late-breaking moderates went overwhelmingly for Eric Adams, and even though turnout was up relative to 2013, the Yang campaign just didn’t turn out enough new voters to put Yang in a competitive position.
We’ll do a more in-depth look into why Yang cratered so badly next week, but in City Reads, you’ll find a good article detailing internal suggestions that much of the blame can be placed on Bradley Tusk, the Bloomberg veteran who recruited Yang to run in the first place.
There were few surprises in the Mayor’s race other than Yang’s horrible performance. Scott Stringer did manage to do a lot worse than his polling suggested, coming in at barely 5%, suggesting that the progressive migration towards Wiley really did work and that voters were genuinely turned off by the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. No one else cracked 5% of the vote.
On the Republican side- it’s Curis Sliwa, baby! While Sliwa was always seen as the frontrunner for the nomination, he crushed his only competition, Fernando Mateo, by 50 points. Sliwa delivered a victory speech in which he described the different personalities of all fifteen of his cats.
THE COMPTROLLER RACE
Call him the Comeback Kid- City Councilmember Brad Lander, who was polling as low as 4% in April, ended the first round in a healthy lead over City Council Speaker Corey Johnson- 31.4% to 22.6%. That was a pretty big shock, as polling throughout the campaign had Johnson as the prohibitive favorite until the very end, when it seemed that aggressive TV spending by the Lander team, heavy campaigning with AOC and an endorsement from the New York Times was tipping the balance in Lander’s favor.
If Adams is an example of how a moderate wins a citywide race, Lander’s current lead shows how a progressive can win in New York City (though the contours of the race are a bit different, as Johnson also self identifies as progressive but runs a bit more to the center than Lander); Lander won outright in Manhattan and Brooklyn due to support among both White and Black voters and squeezed out a win in Queens thanks to success with Hispanic voters in AOC’s district.
Johnson won Staten Island and the Bronx handily, implying that Johnson performed better overall with Hispanic voters, Asian voters and outerborough White voters, but everyone else seemed to fall into Lander’s column.
I’m not as sure of Lander’s victory as I am of Adams’, though. Polling suggested, even as Lander took the lead in the race, that Lander was not a very popular 2nd or 3rd choice, and that Johnson benefited from better name ID as a non-first round pick. Given that Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a moderate, was the only other candidate to break 10% of the vote, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to a see an anti-Lander coalition form in the final rounds of RCV.
While Lander has a reason to feel good about his election night showing, we’ll have to wait until the ranked choice voting process is finished to see if his progressive coalition was enough to translate into a citywide victory.
THE MANHATTAN DA RACE
If $8 million and an endorsement from Hillary Clinton can’t seal the deal for you in Manhattan, you may just not be cut out for politics. Moderate prosecutor Tali Farhadian-Weinstein led whatever sparse polling there was of this very important seat, though a late endorsement from the New York Times and endorsements from across the ideological spectrum helped Alvin Bragg, a more liberal prosecutor who used to work for the State Attorney General’s office, surge at just the right time.
With all the non-absentee ballots counted in Manhattan, Bragg leads Farhadian-Weinstein 34% to 31%. Since this race is conducted through state late and not city law, it’s not ranked choice voting, meaning that we could have had a call last night if the race wasn’t so close. Bragg did deliver what seemed to be a victory speech last night, though absentee ballots could potentially shift the race- it’s just not entirely clear in what direction.
If elected, Alvin Bragg will be the first Black man to ever hold the position of Manhattan DA, which is a pretty big deal. Manhattan was, for several decades, the citywide center of power for tough on crime prosecutors like Giuliani during the War on Drugs and stop-and-frisk. The victims of these policies were mostly young, Black men. Bragg has promised to bring a reformist approach as DA led by a vision of racial equity in prosecution.
THE PUBLIC ADVOCATE RACE
I’ll quickly catch you up to speed on what the Public Advocate does: they’re a non-voting member of the City Council who is supposed to serve as a liaison between the community and the legislative body of the city, and is first in line to succeed the Mayor should they become incapable of performing their duties. Before serving as New York AG, Letitia James was the Public Advocate, and Bill de Blasio after her.
Jumaane Williams, the incumbent PA and progressive superstar, won the nomination handily. Even though it was an RCV election, he received well over 50% of the vote in the first round (around 71%), and so the race does not need to go into extra rounds of counting. Good job, Jumaane!
THE BOROUGH PRESIDENT RACES
These are all way too close to call. Since the Borough President races are all held through ranked choice voting, and there were so many candidates in each race, they will all need to go into later rounds of counting before any frontrunners become clear. All of the races remain really close, too:
Manhattan: City Councilmember Mark Levine leads another member of the City Council, Brad Holyman, by about 3%. The role of BP isn’t really an ideological one, and there wasn’t much heterogeneity in the ideological contours of this race. Levine is currently favored to win, though Holyman isn’t far behind.
The Bronx: Vanessa Gibson, the City Council rep. from District 14, leads Fernando Cabrera, the City Council rep. from District 16, by about 5%. If Gibson wins, she will be the first woman to serve as Bronx BP.
Brooklyn: There were twelve names on the ballot to replace outgoing Borough President Eric Adams, who’s currently… I forget what he’s doing. In a sort of a shocking development, Antionio Reynoso, a 38 year old City Council rep. who received the endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders, leads the pack by 10%. If his lead holds, Reynoso could quickly become a very powerful progressive name in New York City. The BP doesn’t do much, but it’s an office with a lot of political sway and a good springboard to citywide positions.
Queens: Another possible upset- incumbent BP Donovan Richards barely leads Elizabeth Crowley, cousin of former Rep. Joe Crowley (the guy AOC successfully primaried in 2018 to win her current seat), by a little more than 1%. Crowley had the endorsement of Andrew Yang, who did pretty well in Queens, so that may have boosted her numbers a bit. Richards, who was seen as a pretty safe incumbent, may be at serious risk of losing his job.
Staten Island: Here’s where things get interesting! The role of Staten Island BP is, normally, handed down to the City Council District 50 rep, a role normally handed to the Chief of Staff of the outgoing rep. That chain is at risk of major disruption, as CD Rep. Steve Matteo, who was the prohibitive frontrunner going into the race, currently trails former Rep. Vito Fossella bit a bit more than a point. Matteo’s successor in CD 50, David Carr, faces some stiff competition from Marko Kepi, an Albanian immigrant and Marine veteran.
Though later rounds of counting will probably favor Matteo, as Fossella has something of a tainted reputation on the island, Fossella’s relentless campaigning as a Trump Republican, smears against Matteo and endorsements from old friends in the U.S. House helped him pull out a surprise victory in the first round.
THE CITY COUNCIL RACES
Like the Borough President races, a lot of these are way too close to call. Much of the City Council is retiring or onto bigger and better things, as the process of redistricting means that any new reps will serve a truncated term and will have to run again, possibly in a different district, after the map has been redrawn sometime in 2022 or 2023.
Of the competitive races (where more than one candidate was on the ballot), only 15 have been called, mostly for incumbents. Most politicos predicted that the new City Council would be, decidedly, more left-leaning than the previous body, and that seems to be bearing out. A lot of the races that have been called for new reps, and many uncalled races with a clear frontrunner, suggest that a lot more progressives will be joining the City Council in 2022.
The New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) put most of their energy this cycle into electing six candidates to the City Council in District 14 in the Bronx, 22 and 23 in Queens and CDs 35, 38 and 39 in Brooklyn. They were expected to win around three of those races, and they may win three, or maybe two.
Tiffany Caban, a public defender who narrowly lost the race for Queens DA in 2018, handily won the primary in CD 22, and education organizer Alexa Aviles will likely win her race in District 38. Other than that, it will have to go into the final rounds of RCV, as the DSA’s candidates trail the first round winner by a few points in most districts.
WHEN WILL WE KNOW WHO WON?
New York City has a reputation for being really bad at counting votes. But they did alright this year- we got the vast majority of precincts in the city reported by around 1 AM on Tuesday night. The 800,000 or so votes we saw counted on Tuesday night were only the votes from early, in person voting or Election Day.
Absentee ballots will be accepted until June 29th, and though 200,000 absentee ballots went out, not all of them will return. Less than half have been submitted back to the BOE as of Thursday morning.
On June 29th, the BOE says they will begin the RCV process, which will occur relatively quickly as it’s done by a computer- so, if all goes according to plan (a very big if), we could have declared winners for most races by the end of the day, or the morning after. The BOE had originally planned to wait until July 12th (or even after) to begin the RCV process, but they’ve moved it up on the schedule, presumably because waiting 3 weeks before counting votes we already have is a little ridiculous.
It’s not clear, from what I’ve read, if the RCV process will occur before or after all the absentee ballots are counted. It would make more sense to do so after the absentee ballots are added into the first round count, but it’s New York, so I’m not entirely sure what the plan is there.
The BOE had major problems counting the absentee ballots last year, but those were under pandemic conditions and a much larger portion of ballots were absentee- they’re expected to make up around 15–20% of the vote this year. The process of counting these ballots will probably (and hopefully) be quicker.
Most news outlets warn that we may not know the results for weeks- that’s true, we may not know for weeks, but, in all likelihood, we’ll probably have a declared winner for most of the races by the end of next week. Some of the closer downballot races may take a bit longer to count, but will likely get decided before the 4th of July.
…IF all goes according to plan.
We got polling galore in the days leading up to the election, even as the usual New York pollsters sat the race out for fear of messing up an RCV simulation and backlash from major polling errors across the country in the 2020 elections.
However, it seems that the pollsters did pretty well in NYC this year. In the mayor’s race, the only race for which we had consistent polling, polls got the first round share of each of the major candidates well within the margin of error, and correctly predicted the last minute surges of Garcia and Wiley, as well as the collapse of Andrew Yang and Scott Stringer.
Here’s the polling average of the last two weeks of polling in the Democratic primary for Mayor:
ERIC ADAMS: 24.6%
MAYA WILEY: 18.1%
KATHRYN GARCIA: 16.8%
ANDREW YANG: 13.6%
SCOTT STRINGER: 7.6%
SHAUN DONOVAN: 3.4%
RAY MCGUIRE: 3.2%
DIANNE MORALES: 2.6%
ART CHANG: 0.9%
PAPERBOY PRINCE: 0.8%
AARON FOLDENAUER: 0.6%
JOCELYN TAYLOR: 0.5%
ISAAC WRIGHT, JR: 0.1%
Bear in mind, there were a range of undecided voters in each of these polls, around 10–15%, and they had to go somewhere. Here are the actual results of the first round- see if you can tell where they went:
ERIC ADAMS: 31.7% (+7.1 from polling)
MAYA WILEY: 22.3% (+4.2)
KATHRYN GARCIA: 19.5% (+2.7)
ANDREW YANG: 11.7% (-1.9)
SCOTT STRINGER: 5.0% (-2.6)
DIANNE MORALES: 2.8% (+0.2)
RAY MCGUIRE: 2.3% (-0.9)
SHAUN DONOVAN: 2.2% (-1.2)
AARON FOLDENAUER: 0.8% (+0.2)
ART CHANG: 0.7% (-0.2)
PAPERBOY LOVE PRINCE: 0.4% (-0.4)
JOCELYN TAYLOR: 0.3% (-0.2)
ISAAC WRIGHT, JR: 0.2% (+0.1)
That’s a pretty consistent picture with the polling, and suggests that late breakers went almost entirely towards Adams, Wiley and Garcia, who voters saw as the only viable candidates in the race. The average polling error out of the samples conducted was around +/- 3.5%, meaning that the polls got literally every candidate’s vote share within the margin of error, save for the frontrunners who amassed the late undecided voters.
See, ABC/WSJ/NYT? Polling isn’t so hard. You just gotta believe in yourself!
How harassment allegations shifted coverage of a mayoral campaign, by Andrea Gabor
“I coulda been a contender!” How allegations of sexual misconduct against Scott Stringer affected major media outlet’s coverage of the Stringer campaign, and how the decades-long mayoral hopeful quickly fell out of the public eye.
If your own campaign manager publicly describes you as “an empty vessel”, you should look for a new campaign manager.
The Most Detailed Map of New York City Mayoral Primary Election Results, by Charlie Smart, Andrew Fischer and Aaron Krolik
Look to see how your neighborhood voted in the mayoral primary, down to the very precinct. You can even see how Dante de Blasio voted!
‘First of many’: socialist India Walton defeats four-term Buffalo Mayor in primary upset, by Alexandra Villareal
In the biggest New York news outside of the city, a socialist nurse unseated a longtime incumbent in Buffalo to become, most likely, the first socialist mayor of a major American city since the 1940's.
Newly Reported Cases (6/10–6/24): 182 avg. daily cases (-27%)
Newly Reported Hospitalizations: 550 avg. hospitalized patients (-21%)
As of today, the statewide state of emergency declaration over COVID-19 ends in New York, and Governor Cuomo does not appear to have plans to extend it. Even though reports have popped up of the new, more contagious Delta Variant spreading across the state, COVID numbers remain as low as they’ve ever been, due to the Northeast’s strong vaccination numbers.
Additionally, Mayor de Blasio announced that all New Yorkers are now eligible to receive a free COVID test at home.
Brooklyn: 43% fully vaccinated (+2), 54% adults vaccinated (+2)
The Bronx: 40% fully vaccinated (+1), 52% adults vaccinated (+2)
Manhattan: 60% fully vaccinated (+1), 68% adults vaccinated (+1)
Staten Island: 46% fully vaccinated (+1), 57% adults vaccinated (+1)
Queens: 54% fully vaccinated (+2), 65% adults vaccinated (+1)
New York will soon be put to the test against the new Delta variant of the coronavirus, which has been able to infect some vaccinated, mostly older people in the UK and Canada. However, American vaccines provide stronger immunity against the virus than the Astro-Zenenca vaccine used across the rest of the Anglosphere, and though COVID cases have risen ever so slightly in the past few weeks as the weather’s gotten warmer, there doesn’t seem to be any signs of a new major surge in infections.
Governor Cuomo is stressing the importance of upping vaccination rates in under-vaccinated neighborhoods, particularly those in New York City, which could be more vulnerable to infectious spreads of the Delta Variant. Expect another vaccine campaign in New York City over the summer to curb the spread of the Delta variant so that NYC doesn’t have to reinstate any COVID protocols.
As of June 23, 2021, courtesy of the New York Times
Thanks for reading this edition of The Newsletter That Never Sleeps. If you have any feedback, leads, stories, or just want to reach out, feel free to email me at email@example.com or @kieranian_ on Twitter.