Election 2016: Who really won?

Election 2016

The election is over, but what do the outcomes mean?

Now that the Election 2016 cycle has ended, we take a moment to examine results and the true outcome and impact to Monroe.

US Senate Election 2016: Chuck Schumer (incumbent)

Election 2016A common theme in all but the Presidential result is the power of incumbency with the electorate. Three-term US Senator Chuck Schumer was victorious in Election 2016 over Wendy Long. The results were too skewed to mention, with Schumer taking 70% of the state’s vote, the widest margins being closer to NYC, and a smaller margin upstate.

In actuality, this wasn’t a surprise as Long was far outspent by the entrenched Schumer. Moreover, New York generally elects a Democrat based on history and voter composition.

Congress 18th District Election 2016: Sean Patrick Maloney (incumbent)

Phil Oliva, a virtual unknown outside of Westchester, was poised against incumbent Maloney. The results nearly mirrored the Presidential outcome in the 18th District, with Maloney cruising to an easy victory over the political newcomer. This even despite many of Maloney’s policy decisions that were unpopular with his constituents, such as Common Core and Syrian refugee resettlement.

Again, the power of incumbency was demonstrated, and once in office, voters find very few reasons to reject a seated politician. In addition, with Hillary Clinton’s popularity in New York, Maloney had wide coat-tails on which to coast. In a close election, such as 2012 or 2014 against Nan Hayworth, the bloc voting communities hold sway. This year, that impact was diminished although the results were similar.

NY State Senate Election 2016: William Larkin (incumbent)

Election 2016If incumbency is its own influence, there is no better example than 38-year Senate veteran Bill Larkin. Larkin was easily elected over challenger, Orange County Assembly member Chris Eachus. Larkin’s allure? Pork. Political pork. Larkin has given this district quite a bit due to tenure and influence. Much of that is also a reward to the bloc vote constituency, who has received over $80 million to fund Kiryas Joel projects. Though Larkin apparently felt the need to misrepresent Chris Eachus’ record as a deflection to distract voters, specifically about support for Kiryas Joel.

While Larkin supported the Skoufis annexation oversight bill in 2015, that didn’t impact the results in the ultra-orthodox community, which voted overwhelmingly for him. Nor did voters in the district seem too bothered with Larkin collecting both his senate salary and his retirement pension. That shows either a lack of voter awareness, or complacency with a politician who brings home the bacon to his district.

By the end of Larkin’s next term, he will be 90. Which also testifies to the two methods of ousting a politician in New York: Indictment or death.

NY State Assembly Election 2016: Karl Brabenec (incumbent)

Election 2016Again, another testament to the power of incumbency. Though Brabenec seemed desperate to grab any ballot line possible this election. The number of ballot lines, however, seemed to make little difference to the district’s voters.

And this was despite a tactic by his Democratic challenger, Aron Wieder. Wieder was a write-in on several additional party lines including Conservative and Independence. But Wieder made very little attempt to do outreach beyond his core voter base, which was largely ultra-Orthdox Hasidics in Kiryas Joel and Ramapo. Wider’s numbers outside those communities reflected that. So did his lack of hard position statements.

As an incumbent, this was Brabenec’s election to lose, and he didn’t. But his campaign tactics left a lot of voters in Monroe holding their nose or voting against his opponent. Perhaps that presents a lesson for his future campaigns, or opens the field for a challenger in two years.

Presidential Election 2016.

Your experience depended largely on where you live. New York was expected to vote in a wide margin for Hillary Clinton, so the outcome was little surprise. However, Clinton’s results outside of the five boroughs, Westchester and Long Island were mixed. In Orange County, Donald Trump claimed more votes than Clinton. That result was echoed across the country as major urban areas went Democratic, but voters outside the cities were carried more by Trump.

The delegate count in the Northeast, Illinois and California were offset by larger than expected numbers for Trump than Clinton. One could infer that the Presidential race was a referendum on change. Or a referendum on Hillary Clinton. Multiple theories abound.

But from purely a New York perspective, the voting was very predictable. Once outside New York, all bets were off. Voter anger didn’t always translate to rejecting incumbents, reflecting the view that all politics are local.

Speaking of local…

Election 2016In more local news, it has become apparent that Monroe Town Supervisor Harley Doles is angling to retain his current job in the 2017 Town Election. Doles switched his party affiliation from Democrat to republican in October. This comes in the wake of 2015’s repudiation of Councilman Dan Burke by the Monroe Democratic Committee. The policies of Burke, McQuade and Doles figured largely into the decision to withdraw a prior endorsement.

Sensing this, Doles must know that he would likely not receive Democratic support. His response is disingenuous, since the lifelong Democrat shares little in common with the traditional Republican platforms and positions. He is only seeking backing of a major party. Any major party. Any way he can secure a ballot spot.

It underscores the statement that party endorsement should not be a litmus test for votes. Nor should it guide your voting decisions. We all need to be diligent about researching our candidates.

The Bottom-Line.

Election 2016 didn’t change much in Monroe and Orange County. We have the same elected officials, other than a new President. Monroe faces the same issues it did before the election. The Town of Monroe still has the potential for four-more-years of Harley Doles, plus the potential for a breakaway North Monroe. And politicians will spout public positions on bloc voting versus behind-the-scenes actions that benefit special interests.


Contributing Editor