Much smoke, no fire at Cuomo-Nixon debate

It seems that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his primary challenger Cynthia Nixon settled their differences over the temperature in the hall and whether or not they would shake hands (they did) prior to their debate last night. Then the two Democrats (or more correctly, one Democrat and one Democratic Socialist) got down to the business of debating the future of the state. As our own Cortney O’brien reports at Townhall, the entire affair was rather unpleasant, with both candidates talking over each other and Nixon, in particular, hurling some less than subtle jabs at the Governor.

The highlight – or perhaps “lowlight” if you prefer – of the evening in most observers’ minds was when Nixon raised the subject of the dismal state of New York City’s subway system. Cuomo tried to claim that the responsibility for the subway falls on the shoulders of New York City. That’s actually partly true, but not entirely due to the bizarre structuring of the funding for transit management. That didn’t stop Nixon from attempting to talk over the Governor, prompting him to ask if she would stop interrupting. “Pouncing” on the opportunity (as the media loves to normally say about Republicans), Nixon responded by saying, “when you stop lying.” In true schoolyard fashion, Cuomo then accused her of the same thing.

“Can you stop interrupting,” Cuomo asked.

“Can you stop lying,” Nixon responded.

“As soon as you do,” Cuomo said.

The bickering continued:

“The state can’t fund the MTA without the city” Cuomo said. “If the city does 50-50, I will do it.”

“Talk about so many lies,” Nixon repeated.

The two also went at it over who would fight Donald Trump the most effectively. Cuomo spent some time bragging about how the President tweets at him “weekly.” This prompted Nixon to remind Cuomo of his monumental gaffe when he said that America “wasn’t that great to begin with,” and claimed that Cuomo pushed back against Trump about as well as Trump pushes back on Vladimir Putin. The Guardian put together a brief video of those exchanges.

If you go through the entire debate you’ll see one common theme emerging, best exemplified by the exchange over the NYC subway system. Both candidates were big on making accusations against the other and hurling insults. Neither of them offered a solution to the problem, however. (And the state of the subway system is a massive problem.) That’s some choice the people of New York have to make, eh? Two people with no ideas fighting over the same job.

Will the debate change any minds? Doubtful at best. Nixon continues to insist there’s a hidden vote out there waiting to shock the world and she keeps pointing to the primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as proof. But that’s not a good example. Yes, sometimes the polls can be wrong and we’ve seen some examples of that. The pollsters blew it in many key swing states during the 2016 presidential election. But those were tightly contested battles and when the polls missed, they were off by somewhere between five and seven points.

Nobody was polling the Ocasio-Cortez race. Heck, even the candidates themselves didn’t even seem to be polling the race. Conversely, professionals have been polling the heck out of the New York gubernatorial primary and they keep coming up with the same answer. They haven’t done one in a few weeks, but that’s only because Cuomo’s lead is more than 30 points. So maybe the pollsters are off again. Let’s say they’re off by five. Heck, let’s say they’re off by ten. That still leaves Nixon getting stomped in a beatdown of epic proportions.

This debate was hyped all across state media but it wound up being little more than a childish exercise in fingerpointing. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. And I don’t expect the poll numbers to shift significantly because of it, assuming anyone even bothers to check.