The New York Congressional races were impacted by the reduction of a seat in congress (to 26 from 27) and redistricting this year. Many pundits were surprised by this year’s election results which saw Republicans win 11 seats and Democrats secure 15, in a heavily Democratic state. People considered whether the new district contours hurt Democrats or whether “outside money” influenced races.
Democrats won 56% of the total vote count and won 58% of the House seats, which closely align. Arguably, that shows that new contours served the goal of not seeing a disconnect of one party using gerrymandering to push out the other. Additionally, the Democrats outspent the Republicans by 2-to-1 (over $62 million compared to $30 million for Republicans).
The New York City-oriented media suggested that the more rural parts of the state had low voter-turnout and therefore did not really reflect the will of most people. In fact, it was the opposite. NYC voters barely turned out in the general election, with an average of 155,241 in the city’s eleven districts. That compares to an average voter turnout of 266,329 in non-New York City districts, and and average of 219,330 overall.
The New York City low voter turnout was rational. Indeed, going to the ballot box had virtually no meaning as the districts were blowouts. Six races had a winning spread of over 60% and another three were over 40%. The two races that more closely resembled the rest of the state with over 200,000 votes and closer races were NY-11, which was won by a Republican, and NY-16 (with just shy of 200,000 votes) which actually only has a small nub of the Bronx and is mostly Westchester County,
The money spent on the races was extremely uneven and yielded varied results.
While Democrats spent twice as much as Republicans, much of the money was spent in just a few districts. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) blew away all fund-raisers ($9.9 million) and easily beat her Republican challenger. Elise Stefanik (NY-21) was the biggest Republican spender ($8.3 million) and also won her seat.
Consider that AOC alone spent about one-third of the total amount that all 26 Republicans spent in the race.
Some Democrats seemed to spend without reason. Dan Goldman (NY-10) spent $6.9 million even though his opponent barely had a dime and won virtually no votes. Similarly for Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) spending of $5.1 million.
Three Democrats vastly outspent their Republican rivals and still lost. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-17) outspent Republican Mike Lawler by 5.6 times ($5.3 million to $900,000) and still lost. Francis Console (NY-22) outspent Republican Brandon Williams by 4.2 times and lost, while Democrat Bridget Fleming (NY-1) outspent Republican Nick LaLota by two times and lost.
Meanwhile Democrat Pat Ryan’s (NY-18) huge 2.1 times spending of Republican rival paid off, eking out a slim victory of 2 points. Republican Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) UNDERSPENT her rival on a dollar-per-vote basis, and won comfortably.
Overall, Democrats spent $19.54 per vote while Republicans spent $12.05, a 38% difference. Democrats spent over $10 per vote in 19 races compared to just eight for Republicans. They spent over $20 per vote in six districts, compared to three for Republicans.
In total, Democrats lost seven races in which they spent more per vote than the Republicans. The Republicans did not lose a single district where they spent more per vote than the Democrats.
Of the 26 congressional races, seven had a spread of less than 10 points. NY-17, NY-18, NY-19 and NY-22 all had spreads of one or two points, while NY-3, NY-4 and NY-25 had a bit more. Republicans won five of these seven tight races. Two of them, NY-17 and NY-22, saw Democrats pour millions of dollars into the races which ended up keeping them tight but still were won by Republicans.
Looking at it geographically, Democrats won 10 of 11 New York City Districts, while Republicans won 10 of 15 non-NYC districts.
Republicans will need to significantly boost their fundraising over the next election cycle and win the trust of their constituents if they want to continue to hold the five seats in the close races. It is likely that Democrat Mondaire Jones, a popular progressive who used to live in Rockland County (NY-17), will return to run against Mike Lawler in two years, after Jones’ failed run in the NY-10 primaries.
In summary, the new district contours seemed to work in New York State. The Democratic money machine poured tens of millions into races, with far left progressive AOC leading her party. If Republicans spend more intelligently in the state in the next cycle, they could keep and maybe expand upon their 2022 showing.