ALBANY – Before the election, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, “I just want to win.”
It wouldn’t matter how big a victory he claimed or whether he did better than in his first election as governor.
So Cuomo shouldn’t be upset to learn that he won Tuesday’s elections with what is probably the fewest number of votes of any New York governor since Franklin Roosevelt in 1930.
How can that be?
New York’s population in 1930 was 12.6 million and today it is nearly 19.7 million.
Perhaps the answer is a disillusioned electorate, if turnout is the measure.
Although the numbers are still not finalized, it appears turnout in New York this year was between 3.6 million and 3.8 million voters, according to Bruce Gyory, an adjunct professor of political science at the University at Albany.
“That’s not just a low turnout, but a record low turnout,” he said Wednesday in an interview.
A statewide contest with 4.3 million voters typically is considered a low turnout.
Cuomo tallied 1,918,644 votes, with 99 percent of the state’s precincts reporting. If he does not break the two million mark, it would be the first time that vote level has not been broken since FDR was re-elected governor 84 years ago with 1.8 million votes.
No other incumbent governor, or successful challenger, has won the New York governor’s mansion with fewer than two million votes from the time of the Hyde Park Democrat’s 1930 race, according to a review of official books called the Red Book and the Legislative Manual by a researcher at the state legislative library at the Capitol.
Even if Cuomo breaks through the two million vote mark, it would seem mathematically impossible for him to beat the other low vote totals received by governors after FDR: the 2.149 million by Tom Dewey in 1942 and the 2.157 million by his father, Mario M. Cuomo, in 1992.
Click here to find an interactive map by county of Tuesday’s gubernatorial results.