By Leticia Remauro
As a former Republican County Chairman and a political operative, I have a certain affection for numbers – especially when they are in the form of demographics, voting trends, polling data and political analysis. To me, and others like me, those numbers are the basis for every political campaign. I used those numbers when, in February 2015, I predicted that Trump would likely be the Republican nominee even though I was supporting someone else, and again on November 8th 2016 when I appeared on PIX11 morning show declaring that Trump would beat Clinton in Florida and win the Presidency.
How did I know that Trump would win? The same way I know that a female, Cuban-Greek candidate can win this year’s Mayoral contest – I thoroughly analyze, numbers and voting trends.
There are many pollsters that get it wrong. A recently issued Quinnipiac University poll on the Mayor’s race showed that de Blasio had the highest approval rating of his term and that he beat both the male and female Republican candidates in the race. The press release that accompanied the poll carried a quote from Maurice Carroll that the hot race for Mayor would occur four years from now. Qunnipiac’s numbers may paint that picture, but their October 2016 poll also had Clinton beating Trump by more than 6%.
Besides the fact that the Qunnipiac poll was taken just as Malliotakis was entering the race – the other reason I consider the poll to be flawed is that the margin of error in key categories which favor a Republican candidate is higher than for those that favor a Democrat candidate. The margin of error for Staten Island voters in the QU poll is 11.32% and for Republicans is 8.95%. The acceptable margin of error for me is 3% even within categories. The QU poll margin of error for Hispanic voters is 7.63% which further skews the results against Malliotakis who has a connection with these voters due to her Cuban heritage.
Other factors that might skew the poll (I say might because there is no mention of how many voters were surveyed within each borough) is whether the number of voters surveyed accurately reflects the percentage of voters registered and turned out in each borough. Records show that more voters are registered in Brooklyn with Queens, Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island following in descending order. However, voting trends in the last six election cycles where the entire city votes for an office ie: President, Governor and Mayor, shows Brooklyn leads in voter turnout followed by Queens for a majority of the elections. If the QU poll did not have the correct percentage of voters surveyed in each borough then it can’t be accurate.
With that out of the way, let me tell you why I think Malliotakis has a chance to beat an incumbent for the second time in her career. The female Cuban/Greek candidate connects with voters of Brooklyn and Staten Island because she currently represents them, being returned to office with increasing percentages of victory. She is the more likely candidate to connect with Queens voters who tend to lean more conservative because they face similar challenges as those voters living in Staten Island. She naturally connects with women whose turnout increases to 3:1 in New York City when a female is on the ballot. Lastly, she connects with Hispanics whose voter enrollment has grown by more than 4% as of 2016 (Malliotakis’ mother is a Cuban refugee). If Malliotakis can present a message that deepens the connection between herself and these groups of voters, she can beat incumbent Mayor de Blasio and find herself living in Gracie Mansion.
Where do Paul Massey and Bo Deitl fit in? Flawed as it may be, the Quinnipiac poll showed that Malliotakis and her primary challenger, Paul Massey were even in name recognition – this despite the fact that Massey has spent eight months and $4 million dollars on his campaign to date. Massey out raised incumbent Mayor de Blasio in two of the three reporting cycles but that did little to help him gain traction. That’s because Massey hasn’t been able to draw a distinction between himself and de Blasio – in fact, Massey gave the maximum contribution to de Blasio in 2013, a fact that de Blasio is sure to use against him if Massey should manage to win the primary which is unlikely.
As for Bo Deitl, because he is a widely known television character who has enormous energy and is given to humorous and outrageous commentary, he may have been able to help Mayor de Blasio win a second term if he had been given the Independence or Conservative Party line. But since he is creating his own line that will be far down on the ballot, he will have little impact on this year’s election.
Now comes the big question – how important is it to have more money than your opponent in an election? The answer is easy – Hillary outspent Trump; Cuomo outspent Pataki; Catsimatidis outspent Lhota; Hyer-Spencer outspent Malliotakis. In all cases, the less funded candidate won. Why? Because money is necessary to run a viable campaign but it is not the most important component to achieve victory.
In a New York City race where registered Republicans make up approximately 10% of registered voters, a winning Republican campaign begins with the candidate. Can that candidate connect with voting groups that cut into his/her opponent’s base? Is the candidate distinctly different than his/her opponent? Will a higher percentage of likely voters connect with the candidate over the incumbent? Does the candidate have the energy and means to get his/her message out to the public?
The Malliotakis vs. de Blasio match up provides a clear contrast for voters. Malliotakis is a Cuban/Greek woman who sued de Blasio. She has a natural connection to women & Hispanics who are primarily registered Democrats. She has been elected to four terms by voters in Staten Island and Brooklyn. She proved she could raise money because she out raised both de Blasio and Massey for daily intake during the last filing ($9,400+ a day to their average $7,000 daily intake). Lastly, running in a Primary against Massey will help to elevate Malliotakis’ name recognition thereby erasing any negative impact resulting from her entering the race late.
Malliotakis knows how to take out an incumbent; has a natural connection to several large voting groups; is a proven fundraiser and can draw a clear distinction between herself and Massey and herself and de Blasio. For these reasons I give Malliotakis a good shot to become Mayor of New York City in November.