When Allahpundit looked at the nascent candidacy of Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon in this year’s New York gubernatorial race, he managed to find some potential national implications in the contest and even left the door open to the possibility that she has a chance to make it close, if not actually win. Given Cuomo’s tenuous position on a number of fronts, I suppose I can’t argue with that take provided we include a number of qualifiers and a long string of very big “ifs” in the formula. But CNN’s Gregory Krieg seems far more excited about the prospect, declaring that the race is shaping up to be “a blockbuster.”
The actress and activist Cynthia Nixon’s decision to enter the race, challenging two-term Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has touched off the kind of pitched political battle that many in the state, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, seemed confident belonged exclusively to Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, the perpetually warring liberal leaders.
But the stakes are different and perhaps higher in certain quarters with Cuomo’s potential presidential ambitions, along with his current job, on the line. Unlike de Blasio, Nixon has nothing to lose by torching the governor with every breath, especially in the five boroughs, where the troubled subway system — which is controlled by the state — is in a rolling crisis.
All of which provided a neat setup for Nixon’s campaign kickoff speech Tuesday in Brooklyn, an event to which she was nearly late. Why? Subway trouble, of course. Too on the nose? Not in New York these days, where solidarity, and steaming fulmination, are only a mystery delay away.
All of the points being made by Krieg are at least somewhat valid when looked at individually. The corruption conviction of a top Cuomo aide this month certainly must have him on edge. And in the era of the Bernie Bros, no Democrat with national aspirations wants to be seen as too moderate. Further, Nixon enters the race with some baked-in advantages that a lesser known, local candidate couldn’t match. While I assume she’s made a comfortable living in the entertainment industry (her net worth is estimated at around $60M), she shouldn’t have to dip too deeply into her own designer purse to fund this bid. She has pull with both the New York City entertainment crowd and Hollywood as well. There’s no paucity of donors to fill her coffers.
Plus, as Krieg also points out, she has absolutely nothing to lose when it comes to political consequences. In terms of our American Game of Thrones, she is coming out of nowhere and has zero need to worry about what happens if she loses, while any damage Cuomo takes could sink the rest of his career. Nixon can happily go back to whatever television or movie projects she has on the back burner and not have lost any support in her industry. She can throw verbal bombs at Cuomo all day from the cheap seats and have an assured media audience ready to lap it all up. Cuomo has to balance his current position and need for reelection with his hopes as a dark horse presidential candidate in 2020. He needs to be crazy-liberal enough to win in New York, but not such a complete socialist whackjob that he disqualifies himself from a national general election.
But I think we’re still overlooking the fact that, at least for now, Cynthia Nixon is a novelty act for the voters. Cuomo’s overall approval rating in New York is back up near 60%. And in the only primary polling we’ve seen thus far he’s leading Nixon among Democrats by roughly 45 points. (CBS New York, emphasis added)
The Siena College poll found that registered voters in New York state prefer Cuomo over Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro by 57 percent to 29 percent. They also favor Cuomo over state Sen. John DeFrancisco, of Syracuse, 57 percent to 28 percent, according to the poll.
Democrats overwhelmingly favor Cuomo over Nixon, a potential primary challenger, by 66 percent to 19 percent.
As Allahpundit already pointed out, it’s true that these numbers were pulled when the virtual ink wasn’t even dry on Nixon’s tweet announcing her entry into the race. Perhaps with a bit more time she can move up. But that 47 point lead among Democrats would be a heart-stopper for most campaign advisers. Yet that’s not even the biggest number to watch. Back up a bit and look at the All Registered Voters number. Nixon rings up 29 percent. That’s only one point better than John DeFrancisco does. Do you know who DeFrancisco is? Me neither, and I live less than two hours from his office. Conversely, I’d be willing to wager that at least half of all New Yorkers are familiar with Nixon from her SatC days (and probably a lot more if you include everyone who lies about watching it).
In some ways, a total dark horse with no name recognition has less to worry about when it comes to a poor early poll result. As people get to know them they have plenty of room for upward growth. Nixon doesn’t have that luxury to the same degree. So if this primary race is going to turn into “a blockbuster” they’d better hire a much better marketing firm for this film or it’s going to wind up being Miss Sloane instead of Black Panther on opening day.