NY-26: Left Behind

There is something wrong with the image server on MyDD. I'll have the pciture that go along with this post just as soon as I can. Also, please continue helping me turn my backyard blue--Chris

This afternoon, Mark and I drove up to Batavia, NY in the heart of New York's 26th congressional district. Last night, Jonathan reported that the NRCC, chaired by Tom Reynolds, had given up on this district, held by Tom Reynolds. After visiting the district today, I can tell you that the NRCC is not alone when it comes to abandoning Reynolds.

Mark and I avoided the Thruway on our drive into Batavia, preferring to take back roads instead. As we drove through some of the most rural parts of the district, we began to notice the conspicuous absence of Reynolds signs. Not only was Democrat Jack Davis ahead something like 13-2 in yard solitary signs during our drive into Batavia, but signs for Reynolds were also notably absent in clusters of signs for other Republicans running in the area. It was common to see groups of signs for Faso (the Republican who will get crushed by Eliot Spitzer), Spencer (the Republican who will get crushed by Hillary Clinton), and a couple of local Republican candidates. However, no one in any of these clusters was there a Reynolds sign. Not once--both of the Reynolds signs that we did see stood alone on a private lawn. In fact, there were often gaps in the clusters of Republican signs where another sign once stood. Mark and I found at least two clusters where the wire that once held a sign now stood alone, without any sign. I think it is pretty safe to assume that the sign that had been removed was for Reynolds. Local Republicans are trying to disassociate themselves from Reynolds as much as possible. Reynolds has been abandoned.

While we were in Batavia, Mark and I stopped by to see our Grandma on our mother's side, Elizabeth Crane. She had just gotten out of the hospital, and her electricity had just been restored the previous day after the snowstorm. However, as we talked over tea and coffee, she said that she would still be working the polls on Election Day, just as she has every year for thirty years now. If my 86 year old grandmother who just got out of the hospital can work the polls to help make certain that every vote can be counted, everyone reading this blog can work as a volunteer in this election in some way.

As Mark and I were leaving town, we passed by a Christian bookstore. On the side of the bookstore were signs and posters for every Democrat on the ballot in the area, proving yet again that the secular, far-left, liberal elite is making the Democratic Party un-electable. Snark aside, it also led me to think about the meta-question I have been trying to answer on this trip: why is upstate New York turning blue? Along with the bookstore, my grandmother, who goes to church every morning, has always voted Democratic from what I know (for example, she threw out a piece of attack mail against Jack Davis that arrived in her mailbox while we were visiting). Being devout in upstate certainly does not seem to be associated with being conservative. I wonder if that is a change that happened recently, as the broader country has moved against Republicans, or if there was never much of a Christian right in upstate New York to begin with. I certainly don't remember encountering anything resembling the Christian right until I left upstate New York to attend college in the Philadelphia exurbs. Meeting fundamentalists was, um, something of a surprise to me.

There won't be national exit polls on this election, so it will be difficult to draw quick conclusions about the demographic shifts in the two coalitions that will have taken place since 2004. I expect that Democrats will have made significant gains in all areas, including frequent church-goers. This interesting things is that I think will happen without any significant or effective outreach to frequent church-goers on the party of national progressive and Democratic organizations. I don't see many more Democratic candidates talking faith and "values," but Democrats are still going to do a lot better among regular church goers. Will this simply be a temporary increase caused by disgust with the Bush administration and Republican trifecta? Is a more permanent shift in the interests of regular church goers themselves? Perhaps even more importantly, does it demonstrate that there are other ways to reach regular church goers other than to make overt public gestures of faith? There may be other things Democrats are doing, other than publicly wearing their faith as though it were a medal of honor, that are reaching the devoutly religious. Certainly, it would appear that in the NY-26, Tom Reynolds is being left behind by nearly everyone, including the devout. How much can we expect this pattern to extend beyond the specific districts involved in the Foley scandal, and how long will the aftershock of the scandal distance Republicans from their white evangelical base?

Next stop on my trip: Rochester Turning, Eric Massa and the NY-29.

Tags: Culture, House 2006, Jack Davis, NY-26, religion (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

Re: NY-26: Left Behind

I know we covered this in comments in another thread, but I just wanted to make sure people know that just beause there re no national election polls, that doesn't mean that there will be no data.  It just won't be immediate (I think February or March for some data sets I am thinking of).

I'm making the prediction that any shift among regular church-goers will be greater among Catholics than among mainline or evangelical Protestants.  I've argued in the past that reclaiming the white Catholic vote is more important separating Republicans from their white evangelical base.

by Anthony de Jesus 2006-10-16 02:26PM | 0 recs
February or March?

The same consortium that has conducted the national exit polls for the last several elections has stated publicly that they are doing so again this year. Reports that they won't be are unsubstantiated.

They are going to hold the information even from reporters until 5pm election day, that is a whole lot sooner than February or March.

by Davidsfr 2006-10-16 05:22PM | 0 recs
Re: February or March?

I was specifically referring the the American National Election Studies, a data set that has been gathered since the '40s every election year and which is used heavily by political scientists.

by Anthony de Jesus 2006-10-17 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: NY-26: Left Behind

Part of the reason that upstate New York is turning blue is that downstate Democrats have spent the last ten years paying attention to upstate concerns, after decades of ignoring them.  Things like Hillary's listening tour and Schumer's agitation count.  I think that more upstate voters began to see that supporting the Democrats did not mean kowtowing to NYC and its suburbs.

Another part of the reason for the shift is the decrease in the salience of racial politics.  Suburban Long Island machines were largely built on fear of "crime" and "urban issues" spilling over from NYC.  Articles from the 2004 election cycle pointed out that after Clinton took down the temparature on racial issues (in part by signing welfare reform and in part by increasing employment everywhere), suburban voters were more willing to support Democrats.  I think that dynamic may be at work upstate as well.  

Finally, the upstate New York voting population has been significantly thinned out by migration patterns.  Without seeing Census information, my WAG would be that median age upstate has increased, because many who are raised Upstate have to move elsewhere to find jobs.  An older population cares tremendously about Social Security, and understands that DEMOCRATS SUPPORT SOCIAL SECURITY, REPUBLICANS WANT TO ELIMINATE IT.  We should be proud that our party stood up to the Republicans when they tried to "privitize" (eliminate) Social Security.  The Caucus held together, and we stopped the Bad Guys.

by Ephus 2006-10-16 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: NY-26: Left Behind

I suspect this is the prototypical case of the party leaving its members rather than vice versa.  I grew up in Rochester (still get back now and then), and I don't recall the Republican sensibility there ever having much to do with "churchgoing," "values" or any such thing.  My parents were Rockefeller Republicans, and praise for politicians was generally reserved for guys like Jake Javits and Frank Horton; I don't think they were much different from other Republicans in that respect. I suppose things started shifting with Al D'Amato, who my father never had any use for, and the rhetoric has taken things all the way downhill.

The only real surprise for me is that upstate folks didn't walk away from the party in 2004.  They're conservative, far more than I am, but they're not stupid.  Having said that, I wouldn't predict any shift that takes place this cycle as an indication of permanent change.  If the Republicans start nominating guys like Horton again, upstaters will send him back to DC for fourteen terms again.

by dr bloor 2006-10-16 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: NY-26: Left Behind

I agree with this. I too grew up there with Republican parents -- Rockefeller Republicans. My mother was a Rep committee woman, but she didn't vote for Goldwater in 64 -- too conservative.

About the religious issue: I think it is right that your Protestants there are more mainline than Evangelical (fundie). Also, upstate is NOT megachurch territory. Megachurches tend to be in areas where population is growing and newcomers are looking for community. Those towns are leaking people, not gaining.

The Catholics I knew in upstate were all culturally Democrats, in opposition to the economic hegemony of those Rockefeller Republicans. Even if for awhile in the Reagan years they may have become scared that the Dems had become the party of Black people, I bet they still basically thought of themselves as Dems and these days are seeing lots of reasons to come home.

Great news that it is happening . BTW -- arn't you driving around in a lot of snow?

by janinsanfran 2006-10-16 08:16PM | 0 recs
You're making an opera out of this

Just ask the regular church goers on your local Democratic committee what the best approach would be.

by Alice Marshall 2006-10-16 03:30PM | 0 recs
Re: NY-26: Left Behind

I know this isn't the point of the thread - but why aren't there going to be any national exit polls?   (I'm looking for the "said" reason - not the conspiracy perspective...)

by DanD 2006-10-16 04:57PM | 0 recs
There Are Going To Be Exit Polls

The same consortium that has always conducted the polls is going to do so again this year, they have said publicly that in spite of reports to the contrary. They are going to be more guarded with the info and not even release it to the news organizations until 5pm.

The assertation that there will be no national exit polls this year is, to the best of my knowledge, simply incorrect.

by Davidsfr 2006-10-16 05:20PM | 0 recs
Re: NY-26: Left Behind

I love upstate NY.  I love Batavia.  I hope you are taking time to breath the air up there.  You won't get any like it down here.

by eRobin 2006-10-16 06:30PM | 0 recs
Well

Does this mean the Democrats will finally take both houses of the New York Legislature?  With all the hype about how New York is turning blue, it'll be embarassing if the Democrats have anything less than total control of New York's state government.

by kaleidescope 2006-10-16 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Well

It would have helped to have run candidates in all of NY's Senate Districts, that's for sure.  Of the three Senate Districts that take part of Tompkins County (54, 53, and 51) at least two of the Republicans are running unopposed. (Jim Seward in 51 and George Winner in 53).  I'm not sure if Michael Nozzolio in 54 has an opponent

by LionelEHutz 2006-10-16 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: NY-26: Left Behind

This isn't a comment on NY 26, but NY-24.  

Yesterday, I drove from Ithaca north to Auburn and saw only two Ray Meier signs -- one at the Republican Party HQ in Auburn and the other across the street from the HQ.  That's it.  There were Arcuri signs up at regular intervals on RT-34 and a few in Auburn too.

Meier might not have much sign presence in this part of the District but his attack ads are runnign on our cable stations -- I've seen them on the food network and Time Warner Cable's News 10.  I'm sure they are running on other channels too.

I haven't seen arcuri's ads on cable nearly as often as I have seen Meier's.

by LionelEHutz 2006-10-16 08:11PM | 0 recs
Re: NY-26: Left Behind

I've noticed the same thing...Arcuri has a huge advantage in yard signs (at least in the Ithaca suburbs), but Meier has more ads on TV. The ads that Arcuri has aired seem effective, however. However, I've seen even more TV commercials from Jim Walsh (NY-25)...my impression is that he's concerned about the challenge Maffei poses.

by slb36cornell 2006-10-17 05:56AM | 0 recs
Re: NY-26: Left Behind

Being a member of the NY-26 district myself, the Foley scandal has hit pretty hard with the hardcore conservatives which dwell in the region. Tom Reynolds has been the ideal representative for the area (that doesn't include me, who vastly opposes everything he stands for), and remained fairly popular until the end of September. This scandal obviously hit the Christian-conservative base very hard, since Reynolds went down fifteen points in mid-October because of his involvement in the issue. As of late, the polls have tightened, but I wouldn't be surprised if Reynolds loses his seat in a few days.

by Jordan Boyd 2006-11-03 09:25AM | 0 recs

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