Gov. Cuomo (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)
One thing is evident when considering the electoral dynamics in New York, and when taking into account recent polling on the gubernatorial race: the path to victory leads through black and Latino communities and Governor Andrew Cuomo has a major leg up.
The most recent Siena College poll indicates that among Latinos and African-Americans Cuomo is winning by significant margins. Among African-Americans polled, the governor receives a whopping 74% of the vote and among Latinos he’s at a significant 69% (support among both groups has increased since Siena’s last poll). Together, black and Latino New Yorkers account for 42% of the entire Democratic primary electorate, according to my calculations. Given these numbers, it is no wonder that Cynthia Nixon is attempting to make inroads into these communities, though seemingly less so in Latino communities than black communities.
Unfortunately for Nixon, the numbers are just not there. While Siena’s polling shows the governor above the 70% mark among communities of color, the reality is that the governor’s support is likely to be higher than that.
Here’s why: Siena’s own numbers indicate that 9% of the statewide overall electorate is African-American and 8% is Latino -- the poll is of likely general election voters, with Democrats asked to weigh in on the primary. But that is a significant undercount of the actual reality in a Democratic primary. According to data provided by L2, a national voter data company, 18% of the New York Democratic primary electorate is Latino and 22% black. So, the 74% support among African-Americans in Siena’s polling, and 69% support among Latinos for Cuomo, will be a bigger deal than anticipated when factoring in actual turnout in the primary.
Beyond the numbers, the governor can lay claim to a host of accomplishments that he can say have positively impacted communities of color. From paid family leave to an increase in the minimum wage; a tuition-free college program to the allocation of $10 million to a defense fund for immigrants facing the Trump administration’s backlash, Cuomo has made a mark for himself particularly among people of color. And the governor a couple of months ago issued an executive order that will help grant the right to vote to most parolees, another constituency dominated by African-Americans and Latinos. Black and Latino communities will ultimately judge whether the governor’s actions have truly benefited them.
When considering these accomplishments, it is no wonder why Governor Cuomo’s favorability remains high among Latino and black New Yorkers. With more than 40% of the primary vote coming from these two key voting blocs, and considering his high favorability ratings among them, Cuomo should move to the general election fairly easily.
Eli Valentin is a Democratic consultant and pastor of the Iglesia Evangelica Bautista in New York City. On Twitter @EliValentinNY.