By Carol Tannenhauser
I gave up on polls on Election Day 2016, when, based on state and local polls, The New York Times started the morning with the headline “Hillary Clinton has an 85% Chance to Win.” Late that evening, we all learned a lesson in the fallibility of polling, leaving me wondering: why listen to them?
Still, polls are hard to ignore, especially when you see them tightening in the final stretch of a race, as they have in the contest between incumbent N.Y. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin (R). An Oct. 28 Emerson College poll found Hochul up by just 6 points; in September she had a 15-point lead, TIME magazine reported.
How are Upper West Siders — overwhelmingly Democrats — responding to this change of circumstances? To find out, I first sent out an email blast to some friends and acquaintances in the neighborhood. Then, to randomize my sample, I walked from West 81st Street and Columbus Avenue to West 86th and Amsterdam Avenue, and back again, with a stop-off to cast my own vote. (Early voting, by the way, was a pleasure: no lines and the election workers couldn’t have been more helpful. It runs through November 6. Find your polling place here.) In my emails and on my odyssey, I asked approximately 25 self-identified Upper West Siders two questions:
How are you feeling about the governor’s race? And will you watch the returns on election night?
I promised all of the respondents anonymity, allowing them to speak freely. And they did; not one person declined to talk.
“I don’t want my conservatism outed,” a business aquiantance wrote, in response to my email, “but I would not think it the end of democracy or the world if Lee Zeldin won. Kathy Hochul’s inability to rein in New York City’s district-attorney lapses have been a trigger issue for me.” As far as watching the results? “I find election night coverage as riveting as the weather channel and try to avoid it.”
I’m thinking of avoiding TV coverage, too, but for a different reason. A sweet young man I met on the corner of 84th and Columbus articulated it well: “I’m a little scarred from 2016,” he revealed. “I have a bit of PTSD. I think I’ll just wait to find out the next day.”
Another email arrived, this one from a 75-year-old retired lawyer: “This election is a scary one… and teetering dangerously,” she wrote. “I am applying for German citizenship, for which I qualify. Just in case. The election deniers are the most dangerous candidates, and they abound. I wrote more than 300 postcards. I could do no more, as canvassing and other measures are too risky. It is a hard world we are leaving our children and grandchildren.”
“I’m VERY NERVOUS!” another West Side Rag writer wrote. “No plans yet for election night. I might need drinks!” 🥃🥃🥃🥃
Out on the street, as I headed for my polling place, the autumn weather was perfect. The storefronts were decorated for Halloween, and the trees had turned bright yellow. People sat outside drinking coffee; mums lined the sidewalk in front of the florist. A woman hurried by, her curly gray hair flying. “I’m a Republican but I just voted straight Democratic,” she told me. “I’m probably gonna take a Valium.”
At a Columbus Avenue intersection, a 77-year-old man and I looked both ways, twice, before crossing the bike lane. “I’m apprehensive, because if the divisive forces win, the anti-Semitism and other hate will continue,” he said. What’s he doing election night? “I’ll be watching the results.”
A woman nearby overheard us. “I’ll order Chinese food and watch,” she interjected.
“The idea of Kathy Hochel not winning is…life threatening,” a woman on Columbus and 83rd Street said, fiercely. “Abortion is the most important issue! I’ll be watching to the bitter end.”
Two blocks on, at 81st Street, a young woman acknowledged: “I don’t have a strong opinion.” She sounded apologetic. “I have to do more research,” she said, adding: “I won’t watch it. I’m saturated with politics.”
An older woman fell into step with me for awhile to talk about the elections. “I’m upset about every race that’s close,” she said. “Republicans are essentially traitors — put contemptible in there — contemptible traitors. I don’t think there’s a good Republican. I’m horrified by all of them.”
Then, a rare rebuff. “I don’t know enough, sorry,” said a young girl hurrying by. Was she old enough to vote?
“I’m a one-issue guy,” a man said, out of nowhere, pointing out his second-floor apartment. “If you are good to Israel, I’ll vote for you.”
And finally, just steps from home, a woman shook her gray head and said, “I’m shocked that we could produce a candidate [like Zeldin] who is so…Trumpy. This is New York! We’re blue! It’s devastating! No, I won’t watch. I can’t watch. It’s too painful. It’s torture. I’ll wait till it’s called.”
Afterword: Last night, undoubtedly after she got her kids into bed, an Upper West Side mom, age 43, wrote back to my email. Crime, she said, is very much on her mind. “I have a teenager who gets to and from his after-school activities around the Upper West Side by bus and by foot. I worry about him and do not feel that these streets are as safe as I felt they were in past years.” But: “I also can’t see myself voting for someone who believes women should not have a right to choose and [who] voted to block federal funding for abortions.”
This mom said she watched the lone Hochul-Zeldin debate “in between bites of dinner.” The election night returns might not get her full attention, either. “I will be doing what I do every week night: having dinner with my kids, making sure they shower and brush their teeth, read their books and get work done for school, and getting them into bed. Then, if I have any energy left, I will put the tv on and see what’s going on with the race.”
My nerves still haven’t recovered from 2020. I salute those of you who have the fortitude to watch the returns!
I’m reading on Twitter that Senate candidate Maria Danzilo who is running (again) against Democrat Sen Brad Hoylman *refuses* to say whether she supports Governor Hochul. Voters beware!
Since when should a candidate be obligated to publicly declare their voting choice for another race? Brad Hoylman refuses to debate her. He is on the public payroll already. In my opinion that is the public’s chance to hear what she thinks. Not a Twitter demand. Who are you planning to vote for in each of the elections?
Source? Provide a link or WSR should take this down.
I’m absolutely voting for Danzilo.
Note that Hoylman’s election site has ZERO issues listed on it. Whenever he speaks or writes it’s always clear that he’s detached from the realities that we are facing every day.
Not true, 72RSD. His website not only mentions specific issues, it also includes legislation he has sponsored and voted for. Are you sure you are looking at his website rather than his NY gov site?
You’re right, it just took a bit more scrolling.
Though it’s really a surface treatment. “Took on landlords!” “Tried to raise taxes!” “Quality Health Care!”
Danzilo’s platform is far more detailed, and I happen to agree with her more.
I don’t agree. He actually has a substantive voting record. Whether you agree or disagree with Senator Hoylman, he’s passed a lot of bills – I think like 200 or so based on my count. It should be easy for West Siders to see whether they are aligned with him. He’s a gay Jewish public school parent – for me, that checks a lot of boxes (even though I’m a bit more moderate!)
She is a great candidate who cares about New Yorkers and public safety. She doesn’t seem to care about a rising political career but rather public service. Good luck to her.
The post published one of their slanted surveys today saying that Zeldin was leading by one point, which means Hochul is a lock to win.
NO to Zeldin ! According to MSNBC, he’s a Trump acolyte…endorsed by Trump…an election denier, and a one-trick pony claiming that he can end crime in NYC.
As a Long Islander, how much does he know or care about NYC? If he does, why doesn’t he move to our city?
According to MSNBC???? You must be kidding! They don’t know what objectivity is.
He probably knows or cares about NYC as much as a washed-up Eerie County backwater politician who happened to be in the right place at the right time (i.e., her boss turned out to be a sleaze).
You know the Governor resides in Albany, right? Or is that too much to expect, “according to MSNBC”?
Incredible. Greatest city in the world..educated and intelligent……and this is the dream team we have running things. Hochul, Adams, James & Bragg. WOW. Stay “progressive”…vote to stay the same.
I’ll vote to stay a democracy, not give power to a crony of a would be dictator. Anyone who supports Trump is not a serious candidate, regardless of what they could or might do that’s good.
Let’s agree it’s a choice of lessers. Choose not to vote for the evil of the choices.
I would like someone to offer a serious argument why any American should vote for any candidate who supports a former president who obstructs justice and subverts democracy. Regardless of the opponent.
“Nose holding” ain’t good enough. The world won’t end is your standard?? I used to be a conservative too. I thought triggers were for the woke? Where are your fundamental values?
Seeing repeated offenders and criminals rob, attack and kill then walk free and my kids have to grow up seeing them violated my values too. I don’t know if what they see on the street mess them up more or Jan 6 does. It’s a tough choice for independents.
I feel your frustration also. I don’t like the increase in lawlessness and chaos and the reduced consequences and safety. Definitely violates my core value of treat others as you wish to.be treated.
But please don’t cast a reactive vote. Zeldin voted to overturn a legitimate election. There’s not enough threat to our safety to risk a proven threat to our liberty. Trump’s core value is power and Zeldin wants to hitch a ride because that’s his ambition too. Don’t help them!!
Very well said!
Can Zeldin point to any of Hochul policies that has increased crime? Has he proposed anything credible to improve crime or policing?
Either way the criminal justice reformers lost. At least Zeldin will put the brakes on the radical anti-car agenda which is much needed given how MTA is trying to cut bus service in the outer boros, including bus service between the outer boros and Manhattan.
So there’s no plan to address crime, which Zeldin has made the focus of his campaign? I genuinely don’t get it….
Whether Hochul or Zeldin wins, bail reform is gone either way. At least Zeldin will stop the bike lobby.
No politician has ever stopped or addressed the bike lobby in New York. Not in 40 years.
I voted for Zeldin. Bail reform is gone either way. Might as well take down congestion pricing and the bike lobby down with it.
I hate to say it … this is the first time I have ever voted Republican … it comes down to crime and quality of life … don’t tell me it’s not so bad on the uws. It is … and the democrats have failed to fully address or acknowledge it.
You might reconsider your vote if or when Zeldin were to be elected, liberalizes the right to carry guns on our subways, in Times Square, in our schools, and everywhere else. Right now those Republican forces and the gun lobby are fighting and btw succeeding in making guns a new New York accessory. It’s only Ms. Hochul and the Mayor stopping that right now from happening! You think we have crime in New York now?? And you trust a man who supports Trump’s big lie which led to a violent insurrection against our government?
Voting for Zeldin is a little like having lung cancer and fighting it by lighting up a cigarette.
Criminals with guns are the problem, not people who obey laws.
There are already guns in the subways unfortunately in the hands of the criminals. I may not be pro guns but I am pro tasers and other non-lethal weapons which are legal to carry in most other states.
What is HER plan to get rid of guns?
I can’t vote for him, tho.
What’s the Republicans plan to fix crime or quality of life?
Fire the DA who refuses to prosecute criminals and give judicial discretion back to the judges on bail.
Unfortunately their crime-fix “plan” is to eliminate NY’s gun control laws. It’s happening now as national republicans interfere and support arming subway riders. It will accelerate and worsen under Zeldin.
What was the Democrats plan for the last 5 years and why did it fail so bad that it requires a “fix”?
You may recall there was a pandemic in 2020 and crime has increased nationwide, not just in NYC. So unless you can point to something specific that Dems/Hochul did, I’m not comfortable assigning them the blame
The essential worker here said it best regarding other states. They might as well be Mars to me. Their voters will sort them out.
There’s ALWAYS confounding event(s) complicating every single political term. Politicians pay with their seats for the inability to manage multiple priorities. We didn’t elect them to get us out of a pandemic crisis (to the extent they even did that) but throw us into a crime one, etc. etc.
You may not be comfortable assigning Dems the blame, but rest assured that they (like all politicians) will immediately and without any remorse assign themselves the full credit for anything remotely positive that happens on their watch.
Of course there’s plenty of confounding factors, as voters we have to try our best to look through those and see how they played the hand they were dealt. My point is Zeldin can’t point to anything Hochul did and doesn’t have a policy agenda beyond firing Bragg (which is questionable…).
Zeldin is just going to fear-monger of crime which he has no policy to solve and then if in office would only slash services and cut funding to the MTA, which won’t solve anything…
I’m an essential worker and commute daily during pandemic. It was the best and most beautiful time. It was safe. I also was able to walk safely even in the traditionally higher crimes neighborhood including the Bronx and Crown Heights. Even the criminals were afraid I guess. During the pandemic, there were stimulus checks to help those in need. You can clearly see everyone suddenly can afford a Moncler or Mackage down coat. Jobs came back after the pandemic. So why are crimes still up? It’s human nature. If a kid knows there’s no consequence of eating 5 pieces of candies plus taking his pals’, he may/ would go for it. People know they won’t be held accountable. Stop blaming the pandemic. Also what do you care about other states? We live here. Why should we strive to be like some crime ridden states?!
I was an essential worker, as well, before I got Covid—b4 the vax. The buses were “filled” with addicts and EDP’s with nowhere to go or be. It was sad af.
Talk about rose-colored glasses. The pandemic was the “best and most beautiful time”? You pretty much lost all your credibility with that observation alone.
I’d also point out that post-pandemic employment has been slower to recover in NYC than elsewhere in the state and country.
The purpose of bringing up other states, by the way, is to show that any recent uptick in crime is a national phenomenon, not the byproduct of some local policy here in NYC like bail reform.
If you didn’t get it, that is subjective. It was the best and most beautiful time to me out on the street, being able to breathe without having to look over my shoulder vs being in the hospital seeing people dying of COVID. Anywhere outside of the hospital was a sanctuary.
Do we think if those repeated offenders would not have been allowed to walk free, less people would have got attacked, less stores would have got robbed, and one less person would not have been pushed onto subway track and die?
I certainly don’t find it fun to be on the train at 5-ish am these days.
Our realities probably are different so I get your point but I know my reality.
It is so good to hear a perspective of an essential worker.
I’m tired of out-of-touch proclamations and regurgitated platitudes.
NO CASH BAIL is a disaster. Zeldin vows to reverse it.
They don’t have these policies in Texas or Florida, the poster boy states for republican governors. And they don’t have an Alvin Bragg either.
So why is our crime rate lower than either of these states?
As was pointed out in the debate, there’s no evidence that no cash bail is causing increased crime… As best I can tell, the Post and Zeldin are just repeating the same fear-based rhetoric but don’t have real plans to solve anything
Yes they do! Republicans will solve problems the way they always do – CUT TAXES on the rich and cut regulations! If billionaires pay zero tax, we’ll have zero street crime. /s
The same plan Republicans always have – more guns with less restrictions.
And much higher murder rates.
Why do you think that Clinton losing an 85% chance to win vitiates the polls? 85% is not 100%. At 85%, about 1 in 7 races will have the less likely outcome. Since an event such as an election or a rainy day cannot be run multiple times, the only way to evaluate the accuracy of the estimate is to aggregate over multiple events and see whether the outcomes match the predicted probabilities.
It’s the young women who “don’t have strong opinions” and who “need to do more research” but won’t because they are “already saturated with politics” who scare the hell out of me. Ignorance feeds tyranny.
I have little faith in the polls, which are manipulated by their sponsors. But I will be following the elections Tuesday night until the end, which I hope will not be too bitter.
Yes, that young person’s response suggests she thinks that it won’t affect her life much whether Republicans or Democrats, or even these individual candidates, are elected. Wrong, sadly.
“Need to do more research” in the last week of October is code for “I don’t actually vote in these elections,” said by folks who probably are not even registered to vote.
Finally….the time has arrived for voters to “GET IT RIGHT.”
I’ll be at the Met Opera that evening. They are staging La Traviata starring Nadine Sierra.
Otherwise I would be at home screaming at the television.
The worst joke in America these days is people who can’t say who won an election 2 years ago tell you they “know” what the “original intent” of the framers was 233 years ago.
The second worst? A guy who can’t tell you who won two years ago saying he’s fit for a governorship.
One candidate says shootings are down. I doubt it but lets say they are how many more muggings do we need to make a change. This isnt working. The fact that Mrs Hochul said what’s the big deal why do you want to send people to Jail.
Unfortunately as a Democrat I have to choose a person not a party any more. Sad to political parties and you have to choose the person b because the party is going in 10 directions.
1. Biden won in 2020 and anyone who can’t or will not accept it or denies it and has advocated insurrection as a remedy should have their voting privileges taken away and should not be allowed to run for office.
2. Zeldin is a craven Trump loyalist POS – the WORST type of politician who swings whichever way will personally enrich him the most. Anyone who thinks after supporting the insurrection that he is fit for public office should have their head examined. You can be sure that Trump’s slush fund has given money to Zeldin.
3. Sadly most of the country has no understanding of economics and what actually causes or will fix inflation and certainly none of the Rethuglicans do so CAVEAT EMPTOR!!
4. Crime in NYC is currently bad but it swings like a pendulum (just look at the past 60 years of NYC history) and Zeldin talks loud but has not real ability to do anything about it – that rests with the Mayor, the Police Commissioner, the Police Unions and the Dept of Health who need to get all of the mentally compromised out of the Subways and off the streets.
I already voted for Hochul. I’m terrified that Zeldin will get a large number of votes, much less win. And yes, I’ll be watching the returns.
I don’t care if Zeldin has a life-size statue of Trump in his backyard. He has my vote.
Sorry, but if you’re sick of crime, ridiculous cashless bail reform, subway beatings there is only one clear choice. It’s time New York returns to the safest big City in US.
I will never understand why someone whose main issue is crime would vote for the party who’s campaigns are largely funded by the NRA and gun manufacturers. Yes, it must be dealt with but what do you expect a Republican to do other than make it even easier to buy assault rifles?
Because crimes come in a spectrum and many do not involve rifles? Knifing, sucker punching – a 71 yo man just died of being punched in the head in Chelsea. Or how about your friend’s son gets threatened with a knife or just fist unless he turns his phone and wallet over? The point is criminals now have no fear. They know they would be let go and walk free. Even if you take away everybody’s guns, the criminal minds would still have a way to commit violent crimes.
People are getting knifed, pushed onto the tracks, and sucker punched from the back. My God when have you last heard of an assailant having an assault rifle?
These responses are incredible! Kathy Hochul= more of the status quo. The city is in shambles, crime is rampant and businesses are leaving. She’s proven she’s not capable of making the tough decisions to get the city on track. People should not vote party— vote common sense. More of the same or changing the policies that are without question NOT WORKING!
Suicidal! That’s what many of your responders are. Vote for Hochel. Zeldin is a Trumper.
Yes let’s keep no bail. Let’s forget about the stabbings and subway crime. We’ve got to keep our progressive bone fides.
I’ve invited a group of politically-interested friends over. We’ll watch the returns together — eat, drink, cheer or commiserate together. I can’t imagine going through the evening of November 8 alone.
Every Day FROM now To TUES please just publish VOTE….the need is for Americans to save our democracy….and it will only be with CARING to VOTE
How can anyone that is seeing our streets become so dangerous and scary even think about voting for this Awful Woman!! She is so out of touch with our streets!!! Please neighbors ?? Think about what you are doing!!! We cannot allow this to go another 4 years with this far left Gov !! What the hell happened to my JFK Dem party??