After over a year of campaigning, the 2018 Democratic Primary for the 19th Congressional District is over.
Antonio Delgado netted 22 percent in a field of seven, with 1448 more votes than second-place finisher Gareth Rhodes. There are still 4000 absentee ballots out, but as they come from residents from all over the district, they are unlikely to deviate wildly from the numbers below.
Turnout was above average, with 34,963 votes cast- about 25 percent of the district’s 141,000 “active” Democrats casting ballots. Normal turnout for primaries is in the 15 percent range. In 2016, fewer than 20,000 votes were cast.
Who won each county
This chart shows the total number of active Democrats registered in each county, and the candidate who won it (those are not vote totals- instead we wanted to show who did well in the counties with a lot of Democrats).
A few things are apparent. For one, Ulster County has the most Democrats in the district by far. In this case, the winner of the primary won the two counties with the most Democrats, and the second-place finisher won the next two counties. (Though that oversimplifies things a bit, since Ryan basically tied Rhodes for second.)
Here we see each candidate’s performance in each county. Of note: Ulster was competitive for 5 out of 7 candidates; Rhodes’ strength in Columbia (which had over 30 percent turnout); Flynn’s dominance in Otsego County, where he got 38 percent of the vote- the most any one candidate got in any one county; the Ulster-centric support of the Clegg campaign (more below).
Clegg was an Ulster County phenomenon
Like most of the candidates, we at Hudson Valley One are based within 20 miles of Kingston. With so many supporters of all the candidates in close proximity, it was hard to get a feel for who was the front-runner, and who didn’t have a chance. We heard a lot about Dave Clegg in these parts, but wondered if his popularity carried to the outer areas of the district. It appears it did not.
The buzz in Ulster County was accurate- Clegg finished second, only 150 votes behind Delgado. But consult the totals chart above, where he finished second to last overall. Clegg received a full 2/3 of his vote total from Ulster.
Rhodes second place finish was a surprise, as was Flynn’s fourth-place tie
Expectations are hard to set in a race with no polling and no full-time reporters traveling the district and covering all seven candidates. With only a few thousands votes needed to win, it was anyone’s race. Still, some outcomes would have been more surprising than others. If pressed, the consensus prediction was probably Delgado-Ryan-Flynn-Rhodes-Beals-Clegg-Collier. Rhodes’ successes in Columbia and Sullivan, where he won by an 8 and 10 points respectively (a lot in this race) helped propel him into second place. Ryan, whose percentage total, once rounded, was the same as Rhodes, did better in Ulster and Dutchess and some of the smaller prizes in the north of the district.
Brian Flynn did well in his home county of Greene and in Otsego, but had disappointing results elsewhere. Positioning himself as the most progressive candidate (at least policy-wise) who had the funding to win, the issue of his former company offshoring jobs and a gaffe in which he attacked corporations and billionaires in an ad while wearing a $9,000 Rolex watch must have hurt him.
Delgado ran strong everywhere.
Delgado finished first or second in every county but Delaware, where he finished a close third. Democrats should take this as a good sign. There was some speculation about a scenario in which a candidate might win the nomination by running up big numbers in the progressive areas while gaining limited support in the rest of the district. That doesn’t seem to have happened in the case of Delgado, who managed to appeal to progressives and middle-of-the-road Democrats alike. During the campaign, he pointed to his success outraising incumbent John Faso and his endorsement by Citizen Action of New York, one of the state’s leading progressive groups, to demonstrate he had support from both the money and the grassroots. He was also one of two candidates in the primary who didn’t support adopting a single-payer health-care system, instead calling for “universal coverage” by letting anyone buy into Medicare, which he presented as a pragmatic and “achievable” step to take.
Still, the fact that the winner of the primary only scored 22 percent has to worry some Democrats. Was it an embarrassment of riches that prevented a front-runner from emerging and winning decisively, or at least convincing a few candidates to drop out before the end? Or a sign that none of the seven has what it takes to play in the big leagues?