Rep. Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook) is looking like the only real winner of the 19th Congressional District contest, to the extent that more than 9 out of 10 Democrats showed no interest in participating in the widely-publicized vote.
In a district of nearly 150,000 registered Democrats, barely 10,000 voted. That’s a turnout of only 7%.
93% stayed home. But this did not stop Democrats such as Columbia County Chair Cyndy Hall* from spinning the dismal day as a “tremendous” ratification of the party commitee. She can at least feel marginally better than the Democratic commitees in Dutchess and Otsego counties, where party endorsements were repudiated by some 60% of Dem voters.
Across 11 counties, Schreibman’s average margin of victory against a grievously underfunded opponent was about 160 per county, with a sizeable part of his cushion coming from his home county of Ulster. In November, he will face Republican opponent who currently has roughly four times the funds in hand (see below).
Despite blanketing the district with paper and vastly outspending his opponent, nominal winner Julian Schreibman garnered only about 6,000 votes to Tyner’s 4,000. In the fall against Gibson, he now will need to find some better way to energize the other 140,000 Democrats who did not care enough to vote in the primary, and plainly were not motivated by arms-length appeals such as mass-mailers and emails.
Schreibman also faces the daunting task of winning back the progressive base of his own party. What ought to have been a friendly “let the best man win” primary that left the nominee stronger has greatly dampened enthusiasm among Democrats, as evidenced both by Tyner’s surprisingly strong showing and the low overall turnout.
In garnering 41.2% of the vote, Tyner might also take solace from the fact that he spent only about $4 per vote earned. Schreibman (not counting a flurry of late expenditures yet to be reported) spent more like $16 per vote.
Tyner earned the support of more than 2 out of 5 Democrats despite that 4-to-1 spending deficit, despite hostility from his own party’s commitees, despite being mocked by much of the press right up to primary day, despite his opponent being endorsed by the popular Maurice Hinchey, and despite enduring what increasingly sounds like a spurious last-minute campaign finance charge from within his own campaign.
At that rate of spending, Schreibman would need to spend about $1,600,000 in November to have a chance of beating Gibson. Schreibman, according to FEC disclosure reports, had about $250,000 on hand ten days before the primary. Gibson had over $1,000,000.
* It’s a good thing, meawhile, that my old pal Cyndy taught arts rather than math in the local schools, as she seems to think a 2.2-to-1 ratio is “almost 3-1.” Even most high school students learn that you round down under .5, not up.