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Five things to know about voter data from the Hochul-Zeldin race

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Election 2022 New York Governor

Supporters of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul cheer when a video screen shows her and Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado during their election night party in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. 

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Four years ago, incumbent Andrew Cuomo coasted to a 23-point re-election triumph over Republican Marc Molinaro in the governor's race.

This year, Gov. Kathy Hochul won re-election by 52% to 47%, or just 5 points, over Republican challenger Lee Zeldin, data from the state Board of Elections show.

What's behind the numbers?

Here are five things to know about the Hochul-Zeldin race as political observers and journalists dive into voting data in the surprisingly close contest in deep-blue New York.

1: Hochul won just 13 of New York’s 62 counties, but the counties she did win had far more voters.

The baker’s dozen counties won by the incumbent gave her 2.9 million votes from 6.9 million active registered voters.

In comparison, the 49 counties she lost gave Zeldin 2.7 million votes from 5.1 million active voters.

Put another way, 41 out of New York’s 62 counties have fewer than 100,000 active voters. Hochul won just three of them while Zeldin took 38 of these rural, lightly populated counties.

The counties she won upstate included those home to Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Ithaca.

2: Before Election Day, political strategists suggested Zeldin needed to win 30% or so of the total in vote-rich New York City to have a chance to beat Hochul statewide.

Zeldin did get to 30% citywide, fueled by his win in Staten Island, where he became the first Republican gubernatorial candidate to take that borough since 2002.

However, Hochul won the four other, larger city boroughs by wide margins, giving her an edge of 667,000 votes from New York City that offset Zeldin’s gains elsewhere.

Overall, she won by just over 291,000 votes statewide out of 5.7 million cast.

3: Zeldin counted on winning Staten Island, Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island as well as parts of the Hudson Valley north of New York City.

That’s one reason he didn’t concede right away Tuesday night, telling a crowd of supporters that 1.4 million votes remained to be counted that could give him a victory over Hochul.

However, while Zeldin did win his home base of Suffolk County by 58% to 41%, giving him an advantage of 95,000 votes there, along with 54,000 extra votes from Nassau County, it wasn’t enough to put him over the top.

He congratulated Hochul in a statement posted on Twitter at 1:50 p.m. Wednesday before addressing the larger meaning of his race.

"Those controlling Albany should take note," he wrote. "New Yorkers of all walks of life are sick of the attacks on their wallets, their safety, their freedoms and the quality of their kids' education and are hitting their breaking point, as proven by these results."

4: Erie County was Hochul’s only win among the eight counties of Western New York.

The Buffalo native won her home county by just 52.1% to 46.5%, or 19,000 votes. That’s a drop from the 56% of the vote that Democrat Joe Biden took in his race against then-President Trump two years earlier.

Some of her worst performances came in the counties surrounding Erie.

Cattaraugus, Allegany, Wyoming, Genesee and Orleans were among the 12 counties where Zeldin scored his biggest victories.

In fact, the 20% of the vote she took in Wyoming was her second-lowest level out of the state’s 62 counties, after the 18.5% she received in Lewis County.

Hochul’s best performance came in Manhattan, where she won 81.5% of the vote.

5: Even with tens of millions of dollars spent on TV advertising, the promise of the most competitive gubernatorial contest in two decades and intense coverage of a national midterm election, turnout dipped slightly compared to four years ago, according to votes counted as of Wednesday afternoon.

In 2018, when Cuomo won a third term against Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, 6.1 million out of 11.6 million active registered voters cast a ballot. That was a turnout of 52.7%.

This year, 5.7 million out of 12.1 million active voters cast a ballot, a turnout rate of 46.8%.

Now it’s possible more votes will be added because 7% of election districts had not reported as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the state Board of Elections.

And, it should be noted, this was a far higher turnout than 2014, when Cuomo handily beat Republican Rob Astorino and 3.9 million New Yorkers cast ballots, out of 10.8 million active voters in the state. That turnout was just 36.3%.

In both 2014 and 2018, Hochul was on the ballot running to serve as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor.

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News Staff Reporter

I report on development, government, crime and schools in the northern Erie County suburbs. I grew up in the Town of Tonawanda and worked at the Post-Standard in Syracuse before joining The News in 2001. Email: swatson@buffnews.com

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