New York turning purple?

posted at 4:00 pm on June 3, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

There are some things that we all just know without having to ask anyone or turn to The Google. The sun rises in the east, tofu is not actually food, and if you hang around Joe Biden long enough he’ll say something asinine. And for quite a while we’ve all known that New York is one of the most liberal states in the nation. Or is it?

Were you to search for any evidence to the contrary, probably the last place you would look would be an article titled, NY Same-sex Marriage Support at New High.

Support for marriage equality/same-sex marriage/gay marriage is at a new high in New York, according to today’s new Quinnipiac Poll

Voters in the survey backed legalizing marriage between same-sex couples 58-36%, “higher than ever while statistically unchanged from 56-38% April 14.” Once again, we see a split along party lines: Democrats support legalization 72-23%, independents back it 58-34% and GOP voters are opposed, 64-34%.

I’m not knocking the Daily News here. The headline is accurate. The Empire State is in the midst of considering same-sex marriage, and voter support for it has been trending upward for a while now. But this wasn’t the only subject covered in the Q poll, and when you dig into the rest of the questions well below the lede, the plot thickens. New York elected another Democratic governor last year in the person of Andrew Cuomo, but he’s been leaning hard in the direction of Chris Christie since then, taking his message to the people with non-traditional subjects, and it seems to be sinking in.

The first area of interest relates to taxes. The voters are tired of competing with Massachusetts for the title of worst taxed state and are letting their legislators know about it.

Voters support 60-30% a cap on property taxes proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

But that’s only the beginning. NY has long been one of the most steadfast strongholds of union power over the government, in particular the teachers unions. (Remember, we were the home of the infamous “rubber rooms” and bad teachers are nearly impossible to remove under the “last hired first fired” iron-clad rules.) The unions have held on with a death grip to rejecting any form of performance based evaluations. How do the voters feel about that now?

Given an either-or choice, voters say 82-13% that teacher layoffs should be based on performance rather than seniority. Offered a second option, half say layoffs should be based on a combination of both

And while the voters still maintain an overall favorable impression of the teachers themselves, their opinion about the unions has cratered. They were asked the question, “Do you believe the teachers’ unions are playing a positive or a negative role in improving New York State’s educational system?” The unions were underwater, with 48% saying “negative” to 43% in the positive category. Not a huge gap, but when you consider that the same question posed in 2004 gave the unions a 48-35 thumbs up, it’s a remarkable shift.

The next question was even more telling:

Some people have suggested that firing public school teachers should be made easier. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea?

Good idea: 63%
Bad idea: 31%
DK/NA: 6%

Several of the items covered in this poll are ideas which one would generally expect to find in a much redder state, and previously demonstrated very little traction in New York. Cuomo has been pounding the pavement with some of these reform proposals, and for the first time in decades he seems to be gaining some ground with voters who are clearly fed up with high taxes, scandals and union control of Albany.

It’s too soon to say that there is a tidal shift underway, but voters are beginning to pay attention. We haven’t elected a Republican senator here since Al D’Amato retired in the late 90’s, but Kirsten Gillibrand is up again next year to vie for her first full term. Democrats should be looking at the numbers from this poll and feeling a wee bit less comfortable than normal.

Breaking on Hot Air



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It’s a start.

NaCly dog on June 3, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Californication is a lost cause, but may we just be able to turn NY? Is that too much to hope?

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 4:04 PM

folks are waking up

Alden Pyle on June 3, 2011 at 4:08 PM

It’s not impossible. As a general rule Upstate NY has been traditionally more conservative, just outvoted by Downstate.

Nothing would make me happier, I still feel like a little red dot in a blue ocean.

DrAllecon on June 3, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Unfortunately, how people think and how they vote are two very different things.

Vashta.Nerada on June 3, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Spending cuts are the ointment that cures the liberal rash…

joe btfsplk on June 3, 2011 at 4:13 PM

I would believe this if the NY-GOP would come through in special elections. Until then I am not going to hold my breath for NY to produce a ‘red’ or ‘purple’ tide.

Rndguy on June 3, 2011 at 4:15 PM

… voters say 82-13% that teacher layoffs should be based on performance rather than seniority.

I think … I think I feel … a little … faint … uuugghhhh …


Tony737 on June 3, 2011 at 4:15 PM

I’m not convinced.. People will still pull the lever for a D because they’ve been doing it all their lives.. There are many a questionnaire which shows supposed libs are indeed conservative, but the never vote like one nor for one.

When NY sends all it’s delegates to Palin, then I’ll believe it’s changing its ways. ;)

Zippy_Slug on June 3, 2011 at 4:16 PM

The Democrats lose either of the two (NY or CA) and they are politically dead, the Electoral College is the sole reason they keep getting presidential elections, driven by those two.

PJ Emeritus on June 3, 2011 at 4:17 PM




Ring any bells?

There are two three certainties in life.

1. Death
2. Taxes
3. NY and CA will vote for Democrats.

angryed on June 3, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Sorry, but I don’t believe it.

sharrukin on June 3, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Turning purple? Nah, probably not. Beginning to gain some common sense? Just maybe.

Vyce on June 3, 2011 at 4:24 PM

Unfortunately, how people think and how they vote are two very different things.

Vashta.Nerada on June 3, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Exactly. The answer to the headline is a solid NO.

KeepOhioRed on June 3, 2011 at 4:25 PM

Are the Republicans even going to have a credible Senate candidate to run against Gillibrand in 2012? I doubt it.

steebo77 on June 3, 2011 at 4:28 PM

How do we get rid of the dead wood teachers? We don’t but I wonder what those teachers think when they retire and some bottom of the heap kid does their blood work.

mixplix on June 3, 2011 at 4:30 PM

angryed on June 3, 2011 at 4:22 PM

lulz, yeah the article isn’t that great. NY might be like WA State, where people might be somewhat fiscally conservative on certain issues, but as a whole the state will keep voting for Democrats. It’d be nice if we could start holding some of those NY cong districts.

IR-MN on June 3, 2011 at 4:34 PM


cartooner on June 3, 2011 at 4:38 PM

The Republicans need to just concede this same sex marriage issue and move on. It isn’t going away.. the younger generations support it in mass.. and its only serving at a wall between Independents and the Republican party. I have several liberal friends that i can easily convince on economic issues, but as long as Republicans are appearing “anti-gay” they’ll never ever vote R.

tflst5 on June 3, 2011 at 4:41 PM

IR-MN on June 3, 2011 at 4:34 PM

At least WA has no income tax. They vote in Dems but I guess they’re somewhat rational Dems. In NY…rational left the building about 30 years ago.

angryed on June 3, 2011 at 4:42 PM

I have several liberal friends that i can easily convince on economic issues, but as long as Republicans are appearing “anti-gay” they’ll never ever vote R.

tflst5 on June 3, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Yep. I have several friends who think taxes are too high, govt spending is too high, think too many people abuse welfare, think public education is a joke, believe in a strong military and are in general patriotic.

But they will never vote for a Republican as long as the GOP is seen as anti-gay and anti-abortion.

angryed on June 3, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Interesting but this thread really belongs in the “on a slow news day bring out the dancing bears and two-headed turtles fillers” category.

MaiDee on June 3, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Just being the regular “raining on your parade” poster:

The property tax question and the teachers being fired based on performance are silly to even mention. Is there any place in the country where a poll will find people saying they are OK with increased property taxes and ANY profession basing firing on seniority, not performance?

Secondly, this isn’t an issue of “how do you fire teachers”, it’s “how do you measure teacher performance”. Standardized tests certainly don’t work. Some of the best teachers are in districts where drop out rates come close to 50%, and it’s entirely based on soci-economics and poverty. The teacher could be Socrates reborn, but if half of their student’s aren’t even in school to take a test, how do you measure their performance?

Rainsford on June 3, 2011 at 4:51 PM

The Republicans need to just concede this same sex marriage issue and move on. It isn’t going away.. the younger generations support it in mass.. and its only serving at a wall between Independents and the Republican party. I have several liberal friends that i can easily convince on economic issues, but as long as Republicans are appearing “anti-gay” they’ll never ever vote R.

tflst5 on June 3, 2011 at 4:41 PM

This is true. It would be wonderful if Republicans bolstered support for all marriage and for allowing religious institutions the right to refuse to marry gays and lesbians. However, gay marriage will do no more to destroy the sanctity of marriage than our celebrity culture and political leaders have done. It’s time to acknowledge that it’s the culture that is destructive, not the individuals.

If Rick Lazio tosses his hat into the ring for Gillibrand’s senate seat, all is lost. I would like to see a county executive run, or Giuliani, who probably thinks it’s beneath him. Gillibrand is beatable, especially in this political climate, but it has to be someone willing to fight 24/7. The state GOP hasn’t come to terms with the Tea Party yet.

piglet on June 3, 2011 at 4:52 PM

NY-20 ousted the Dem. Scott Murphy and elected Repub. Chris Gibson. The media up here is trying to push blue, but some of us manage to get around them.

Connie on June 3, 2011 at 4:55 PM

As an upstate NY’er, I can say that Cuomo has been a welcome surprise for most conservatives here. He is battling on fronts that the state GOP has never dared approach and winning. Local public radio shows are freaking out in their efforts to cover his actions and reconcile them with the big D behind his name. Everyone I know even remotely conservative knows that he is positioning himself for a national run in 2016, and to do that he has to fix the financial picture here in NY.

Supporting gay marriage after his fairly conservative fiscal moves is smart politics. He is proving to his base that he is still on their team, keeping his poll numbers up with them, and demonstrating to independents that there are reasonable Democrats on fiscal matters and that he wants to fix the state. I don’t think he is operating from steadfast principles, simply a desire to be the “guy who fixed New York.”

piglet on June 3, 2011 at 5:00 PM

angryed on June 3, 2011 at 4:45 PM

This is why Roe needs to be overturned. Half the country is pro-life, the other half pro-choice. Not much movement. Let AL, ID have its abortion laws, WA, CA, NY have its.

IR-MN on June 3, 2011 at 5:10 PM

The electorate is slowly waking up, and when the questions are framed the right way polls reflect it. It’s the power of the Internet and talk radio, undercutting the lying MSM, in action.

One evidence is the despicable nature of Dem campaigns. Last year the DNC ran the filthiest campaign I have ever witnessed in NY-19. It had not a modicum of content; it was all baseless smear. When they have to stoop that low, it is clear they are out of ideas.

I even seem to recall the needle moving on vouchers here. That would be a seminal beachhead.

paul1149 on June 3, 2011 at 5:11 PM

I believe all northern and midwestern states will eventually return to their natural place as GOP states as soon as the unions die off. California is a lost cause.

Nelsen on June 3, 2011 at 5:13 PM

The problem in NY is that the GOP has been out of it for so long they can’t campaign their way out of a paper bag. I grew up in the reddest of red districts, the NY-20. Then the Dems figured out they could register to vote in the district of their weekend home instead of their primary residence, and heck, maybe vote twice at that, and it started to turn purple. Upstate NY is Red – plain and simple, down state is Blue – but they are DROWNING in debt, and know it. If Conservatives in NY could get their act together they could gain some serious ground, the key word of course being IF.

Govgirl on June 3, 2011 at 5:14 PM

I’m glad I won’t be holding my breath to see NY turn even purple. The NY state GOP is hopeless (remember Scozzafava?). And in 2010 they gave a pass on Gillibrand (why didn’t Guiliani or Pataki run at least to save the seat as a place holder?). But, then again, Cronyn didn’t go out of his way to find a suitable candidate to Gillibrand either. With Cronyn still head of the RNSC, I’m still not optimistic about even taking back the Senate in 2012.

Bob in VA on June 3, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Don’t get your hopes up. The first thing the Republicans need in order to unseat Gillibrand is a credible candidate, and with the completely dysfunctional, fractured NYS Republican party, that’s virtually impossible.

Perhaps Rudy could do it–and that’s a strong perhaps–or Monroe County Exec Maggie Brooks (that’s an even stronger perhaps), but I’m not holding my breath.

Pope Linus on June 3, 2011 at 5:19 PM


Dems will just run “centrist” Democrats that say the right things in the district and then vote total Progressive in D.C.

Then SoundByte Americans in their districts will get 5-10 seconds of news on the way out the door or see a headline on Yahoo and boom…….DEMS IN POWER FOR LIFE, and the Purpling of New York goes away.

Problem solved thanks to the Rahm Emmanuel strategy popularized in 2006 “THUMPIN” of GOP.

PappyD61 on June 3, 2011 at 5:20 PM

I’ll believe it when I see it. Having lived in NY I can say they are possibly the dumbest voters as a group as any that can be found in the country, with the possible exception of California.

Remember Nelson Rockerfeller?

Lonetown on June 3, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Jazz hitting the crack pipe?

rickyricardo on June 3, 2011 at 5:25 PM

I wouldn’t get too eager. The more I’ve looked into it, it seems more an East Coast/West Coast thing.

East Coast likes big government, but does not want its government to go broke. These are old states, with machine politics traditions, strong parties. They’ve never tolerated blind wastes of money. Projects are expensive, but they have to be paid for, at some point. The Big Dig is on the stretch of it. High taxes, high services. There is a desire to get things done with money that some people have.

West Coast has no idea how to manage money. Particularly, California. They spend money like they have no tomorrow. High taxes and higher rewards. There is a desire to get things done with money that nobody has.

Compare disability rates for employees in NY, compared to California. You’ll discover NY has an expectation that people expect to work.

It’s a more functional version of liberalism, grounded by the arrival of occasional conservatives to fix things up and the realization that they can’t be the one to break what’s been building for years.

amazingmets on June 3, 2011 at 5:26 PM

This is right up there with the “Jews to vote Republican this year?” nonsense conservatives cough up every election cycle.

Might as well shovel fleas instead.

rickyricardo on June 3, 2011 at 5:27 PM

There are a few of us holding the candle for conservatives in NY. One thing I find interesting is that there are a lot of Tea Partiers in NY who haven’t figured out how to gain control of the system, like the groups in Utah. They are loose groups who haven’t moved beyond the protesting. But, I think with a genuine grassroots figure at the top of the GOP presidential ticket next year, Tea Party folks in NY might just find their voices.

piglet on June 3, 2011 at 5:34 PM

You guys have no idea. Right now, Gov. Cuomo (D) is embroiled in big negotiations for a property tax cap. He has spent the last five months fighting for that and the necessity of getting rid of “last hired, first fired” practices in school districts. The unions and Democrat county executives are freaking out. Republicans, who run the state senate, are enjoying the fracas, but are grappling with the redistricting map to eliminate two congressional seats.

Cuomo has basically undercut the public employee unions, though the state assembly (Democrat majority) is trying to gut his tax cap by removing pension promises. This is war and it’s Democrats against Democrats. People should be watching NY not because it might turn purple, but because it might portend a shift in attitude by major Democrat players regarding fiscal issues. Cuomo has said in no uncertain terms that he will not support a tax increase of any kind, not even a “millionaire tax” increase, and he has made a number of his supporters very unhappy.

piglet on June 3, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Cuomo seems MUCH better than I would have every imagined, his dad must have indigestion on a daily basis. However, much of the problem with Republicans in the state seems to be the horrible state party. I would think beginning to elect more conservative Dems, like Cuomo, is a step in the right direction. It’s much more than Cali can say.

lizzie beth on June 3, 2011 at 5:55 PM

Remember, NYC voters elected Giuliani. They will face the facts when things get bad enough.

YehuditTX on June 3, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Perry/Pataki or Ryan/Pataki both have a nice ring to it.

cpaulus on June 3, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Turning purple in the sense of all the bruises the “battered wives” voters of NY who continue to vote for their tormentors.

SouthernGent on June 3, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Something’s happening. Can confirm anecdotally. Found out today that an old friend, lifelong D, in name and spirit, who actually ran for a small office as a D (lost). Just came out and publicly renounced. Says he reregistered as an Independent. Apparently he read an article by Dr. Walter Williams about the entitlement disaster. Spread the word. Your own liberal friends may by ripe for some common sense.

curved space on June 3, 2011 at 6:10 PM

Actually, Cuomo’s adopting some fiscal conservatism will probably help Democrats, since some centrist voters will be tempted to vote Democrat in support of Cuomo.

New York Republicans need to come out in support of conservative IDEAS, not necessarily in opposition to all Democrats, and those in the NY State Legislature should vote WITH Cuomo if he does something conservative. They need to drive a wedge between the uber-liberal Democrats like Rangel and Weiner and those who sometimes vote with conservatives.

As for winning a NY Senate seat, there are only two New Yorkers who can do it–former Gov. George Pataki, who has already won statewide, and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, who can get enough votes in NYC so that Upstate can put him over the top. They may be RINOs, but they would be better than upChuck Schumer…

Steve Z on June 3, 2011 at 6:11 PM

It’s important to understand the dichotomy that exists in New York State. While there are certainly many, many areas throughout “upstate” (as the “downstaters” label it) that lean Republican, the sheer immensity of the rabidly leftist NYC metro region tips the balance leftward. Add to that dynamic the convoluted gerrymandering that takes place to insure that even “red” areas are infused with as much “blue” as possible. It’s sickening, really – but don’t lose hope! I must say that, even though I certainly would not have voted for him if I still lived in western NY, the Spawn of Cuomo has been doing a pretty decent job addressing some of the fiscal concerns that plague the state.

Logic on June 3, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Remember New Yorkers elected two wimps-Noble Knight Anthony Weiner (Don Quixote) and retainer Elliot Spitzer (Sancho Panza). Anybody who would vote for those two clowns would elect bacteria off a toilet seat.

Oh fair knight
Let’s keep it simple
Between thy legs
there lies a pimple

In your room
Don’t light a Ronson
To reveal a
Shriveled johnson

In the press
Don’t blame a hacker
For your tiny

In short (no pun intended), New York is only half as catastrophic as California because it only has half the number of people.

MaiDee on June 3, 2011 at 7:22 PM

It would be a big mistake for the national GOP to misread these few little poll bits on unions and decide to blow a lot of money here in NY. The people here are largely uninvolved politically and living off fastlane fumes, delusions of grandeur, political correctness, diversity tripe, and moldy chicken-in-every-pot rhetoric. If NY’ers couldn’t wake up and smell the coffee of liberal policy after 9/11 bashed through their threshold, they never will.

Everyone here knows the municipal unions are corrupt (except the underpaid cops, firemen, and EMTs), but the liberal religion trumps all when going behind the curtain on election day. Why? Because NY’ers have mostly swallowed the Republicans-are-evil meme. They just like it that way and they never have to rethink anything.

Western_Civ on June 3, 2011 at 7:58 PM

The other thing to remember, talking New York v. California, is that a person living or owning a business in New York can remain in the region while moving one or both to several surrounding states — they may not be conservative, but they’re less liberal than what New York’s been for the past decade. California on the other hand, has 800 miles of the Pacific Coast all to itself — people involved in businesses connected with foreign trade or even regional businesses like in Silicon Valley can’t just set up shop or home across the river in another state. It’s a minimum 250-mile trip from the coast to get to Nevada, and 350 to get to Phoenix.

So the marketplace of ideas and the laboratory of the states comes into much bigger play in New York that it does with its west coast rival. New York City’s near-bankruptcy in 1975 was the result of that generation’s liberal politicians thinking they could raise taxes and regulations on people and businesses to whatever they wanted, because their city/state as so wonderful nobody who really matters would ever want to move out. Andrew Cuomo had to watch his dad and other Democrats like Richard Ravitch try to pick up the pieces after that disaster; California Dems still have a mindset like New York Dems circa 1974 — everything’s turning to crap, but we’re still such a paradise, all the people who really matter will never move away.

jon1979 on June 3, 2011 at 8:05 PM

Cuomo is going to be running for president in 2016 and he will be formidable.

edshepp on June 3, 2011 at 9:26 PM

New York State’s army of young teachers has taken a stand against seniority-over-all hiring decisions. That said, they are still an army of public employees, not necessarily welcoming right wing politics with open arms. You can use them to your advantage over the short term, but they are still an army of public employees.

ernesto on June 4, 2011 at 12:32 AM

ernesto on June 4, 2011 at 12:32 AM

If certain persons have learned from the past and don’t outright alienate the lot, we may have a chance with them.

But that is by no means a certain deal.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 4, 2011 at 3:31 PM