The decline and fall of the New York City GOP

It’s a good idea to steer clear of predictions, especially on Election Day. But I’m going to throw caution to the wind and make a bold call: the Democratic candidate will win New York’s mayoral contest.

OK, that’s not too brave a prediction. When the votes are counted, Eric Adams, the ex-cop who clinched the Democratic nomination with a moderate, tough-on-crime, pro-business message, will triumph by a massive margin.

Curtis Sliwa seems like a nice enough chap. With his red beret, history of crime-fighting entrepreneurialism and tiny apartment full of cats, he evokes a more colorful, grittier time in his city’s past.

I don’t want to be rude about Sliwa, but that he was the best the GOP could come up with is symptomatic of the party’s decline in New York.

Any hope of a meaningful Republican revival was snuffed out when Adams secured the Democratic nomination. The unambiguousness with which the former Republican has made crime and public safety his top issues has left Republicans with a much less potent line of attack than they would have had if a more progressive figure like Maya Wiley or Scott Stringer had triumphed in the primary.

And yet, one suspects the New York GOP wasn’t exactly primed and ready to capitalize on that opportunity. All of this seems unsurprising enough: it’s a big city, Democrats are bound to win and Republicans are bound to be a reasonably disorganized bunch.

Further down the ticket, things don’t get much better for Republicans. They have three members on the city’s 51-person council. If things go well today, they may add one or two more.

But that acceptance of the inevitability of one-party rule in America’s largest city ignores the precipitousness of the GOP’s fall.

As recently as 2005, Michael Bloomberg won citywide with an R next to his name. Before that, Rudy Giuliani won twice, campaigning and governing as an unambiguous Republican — and doing so with great success. The fate of those two mayors — one now a Democrat, the other a blathering conspiracy theorist — is symptomatic of the party’s decline.

To declare an interest in this issue, I’ve just embarked on a year-long project looking at the death and possible rebirth of the GOP in America’s big cities. In New York, as in other blue American metropolises, it’s easy to forget how many Republicans there still are. One in four New York voters opted for Donald Trump last year. Yet these urban Republicans have been written out of recent political history.

As a result, we know far too little about who they are and what they care about. And it’s a mistake to think they have no electoral relevance. Or that there’s no chance of a Republican revival in America’s cities. After all, the dramatic decline of the New York City GOP, underscored by today’s foregone conclusion of a mayoral race, is a reminder of how quickly things can change.

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McGowan’s disinformation hustle

Today in failing upwards, Tara McGowan, the Democratic operative responsible for the app that derailed last year’s Iowa caucuses, has a new job. And a lucrative sounding one at that. McGowan has the backing of Reid Hoffman and George Soros in a venture called Good Information Inc, which will “tackle disinformation” and fight to break through echo chambers with “fact-based information.”

This new quest to fight fake news has won her a number of fawning write-ups, like this one, that paint McGowan as a brave crusader for the truth. But there’s a slight problem with that characterization. ACRONYM, the progressive non-profit run by McGowan that screwed up so badly in Iowa, is a backer of Courier Newsroom, a hyper-partisan operation that exists to pump out Democratic talking points. Last year, ACRONYM faced an FEC complaint about a lack of transparency when it came to its links to Courier.

As if to underscore the irony, Good Information is now acquiring Courier as one of the platforms with which to “tackle disinformation.” As VICE’s Anne Merlan puts it in a detailed account of the Good Information hustle, “McGowan does, to be fair, have some experience in the politically-motivated, ultra-partisan news space — but it’s on the wrong side.”

Inflation spin

Yesterday, Joe Manchin once again reminded his colleagues of the precariousness of their Build Back Better package in a statement that irked many on the left and raised alarm bells among those who had assumed the legislation was a done deal.

In a nothing-to-see-here response from the White House, Jen Psaki, currently COVID-19 positive and working from home, welcomed Manchin’s support for “a Build Back Better plan that combats inflation.” The emphasis there is mine, and that’s because its a mind-boggling claim to make about a massive spending package. Should we weep at the economic illiteracy or admire the audacity of the claim?

What you should be reading today

Dominic Green: Sleep is Joe Biden’s superpower

Amber Athey: The Youngkin blueprint

Matt Purple: Here come the nineties

Yuval LevinNational Review: Can either party set priorities?

Steven Shepard and Charlie MahtesianPolitico: Five things to watch when Virginia votes

Hannah RichieWIRED: Stop telling kids they’ll die from climate change

Poll watch

President Biden Job Approval
Approve: 43.0 percent
Disapprove: 51.1 percent
Net approval: -8.1 (RCP Average)

Top of the ticket in 2024: Democrats were asked whether they think the party would have a better chance if Biden is the nominee in 2024 or someone else
Biden: 36 percent
Someone else: 44 percent (NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist)

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