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The Ten Districts of NY10
How Ideology, Race and Class will shape the results of New York's 10th Congressional District.
Disclaimer: Substack is my personal project. All writings, words, ideas, and opinions expressed here are my own and are not related in any way to my employer, nor my duties at work.
At the height of last June’s Democratic Mayoral Primary, Five Thirty Eight published a creative dive - titled “The 5 ‘political boroughs’ of New York City” - examining the entirety of the City’s Assembly Districts, with the hope of highlighting the varying political factions throughout Gotham. By primarily focusing on three crucial factors: voting patterns, race/ethnicity, and economic class - Five Thirty Eight linked districts throughout the City by their political symmetry, in turn creating five Boroughs of their own. The piece is an excellent lens into the macro forces that shape New York City’s electoral politics.
But why stop there?
In my time studying the minutia of New York City politics, I routinely find myself evaluating elections - past and present - through the politics of ideology, race/ethnicity, and class. As it stands today, I believe those three tenants are the most indicative factors in predicting, and explaining, the electoral results of New York City’s Democratic Primaries.
Hence, given the fiercely contested race for New York’s 10th Congressional District, I wanted to do something similar, albeit on a much more micro scale.
Thus, I am proud to present The Ten Districts of NY10:
Sunset Park West
Sunset Park East
Brooklyn’s Progressive Pockets
Manhattan’s (less) Progressive Pockets
These “districts”, which I will detail throughout the piece, encompass the hundreds of election districts within NY10, frequently spanning across multiple Assembly Districts, let alone linear-geography itself. By crafting these districts through a meticulous study of the Tenth District’s racial and class composition, cross-referenced with recent electoral results in 2022, 2021, and 2018 - distinct pockets of the electorate - and their prospective voter turnout during the August Primary - can be examined more closely.
Editor’s Note: Due to the redistricted Assembly Lines, election districts from pre-2022 races are not a 1:1 match for their new counterparts. As such, I cannot give exact figures for the Mayoral Primary and other earlier races, but my estimations (largely based on Atlasizer maps) are nonetheless reliable.
Most importantly, as Election Day draws near, the piece seeks to tangibly evaluate the math behind voter turnout in NY10, and how it will correspond to candidate performance - all while giving the reader the ability to map each candidates’ path to victory, or simply submit their own prediction for how the primary will shakeout.
Without further adieu, let’s begin.
For this exercise, I split Brooklyn’s traditional “Brownstone” neighborhoods into two-categories, despite largely similar racial and class profiles. Why? Ideology - with the Gowanus Canal as the line of demarcation.
Voters west of the Canal and north of the Gowanus Expressway, in neighborhoods like Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo (+ the Red Hook waterfront), do not reliably back progressive candidates to the degree their neighborhoods in Park Slope and Windsor Terrace do, who are also majority white and upper-class.
In the Mayoral Primary last June, these “Brownstone Brooklyn” election districts uniformly backed Kathryn Garcia for Mayor, Brad Lander for Comptroller, and Jo Anne Simon for Brooklyn Borough President. This summer, New York Times-endorsed Kathy Hochul bested Jumaane Williams in these precincts by twenty-four points.
As for the NY10 primary, Dan Goldman appears to be on pace to perform well amongst this cohort, given his polling lead with older white voters. Whether Jones - who recently launched a forceful anti-Goldman TV ad - or Simon - whose Assembly District 52 encompasses nearly the entirety of these precincts - can bleed votes from Goldman remains to be seen. If Goldman’s margins are kept down, it opens the door for Niou and Rivera to divide the progressive vote and remain competitive in this corridor.
Verdict: Slight Advantage Goldman, but otherwise a tossup. Simon will peak here as well.
Across the Gowanus Canal in neighborhoods adjacent to Prospect Park, the terrain is more hospitable to left-leaning candidates, despite a nearly-identical racial and class base. Here, Maya Wiley ran neck-and-neck with Kathryn Garcia, while Antonio Reynoso outperformed Jo Anne Simon, buoyed by a strong performance across South Slope and into Windsor Terrace.
For Carlina Rivera, Reynoso’s strong performance provides a roadmap - given the two boast remarkably similar coalitions, with Reynoso himself backing Rivera, along with Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and 1199 SEIU.
However, this district is almost entirely up for grabs. Goldman, Simon and Holtzman all match the class and racial composition of the area, with mainstream liberal politics to boot (Simon’s AD52 also partially overlaps in the northern portion of Park Slope). Notwithstanding, Working Families Party candidates, from Shahana Hanif to Ana María Archila, have recently won majorities on these blocks as well (Jumaane Williams only lost the area to Hochul by eleven points).
If any candidate can meaningfully distinguish themselves amongst these high turnout, vote-rich precincts, they’ll be in pole position to pull ahead on Election Night.
Sunset Park West
The majority-Latino, western half of Sunset Park is poised to be a crucial building block for Carlina Rivera’s campaign. With Velázquez, Reynoso and City Council Member Alexa Aviles (+ $500,000 from Nuestro PAC) in tow, Rivera is undoubtedly banking on a dominant performance in these election districts, where her progressive politics will also serve as an asset.
Editor’s Note: Sunset Park West’s Latino Population is approximately 40% Puerto Rican and 40% Mexican
While Rivera winning Latino voters appears to be an open-and-shut case, as with everything NY10, it will be a question of margins. How will the more left-leaning Niou perform in the district’s plurality Latino precincts that have sizable white populations (>30%)?
With three Latinos on the ballot for Lieutenant Governor in June, Sunset Park West accounted for approximately 3.65% of overall turnout in NY10. If Rivera can further mobilize Latinos to the polls, to the point where voter turnout in Sunset Park West constitutes closer to 5% of the electorate, her winning odds will only increase.
Verdict: Advantage Rivera.
Sunset Park East
Across Seventh Avenue, Sunset Park’s population grows increasingly more Asian, and is defined by a large Chinese population.
While these precincts accounted for less than 2% of NY10’s overall vote in June’s Democratic Primary - that came without a single Asian candidate at the top of the ticket for Governor or Lieutenant Governor, coupled with a non-competitive Assembly Primary.
With three Asian candidates on the ballot in NY10 - Yuh-Line Niou, Yan Xiong, and Jimmy Li - there is an expectation turnout will increase.
While her core base remains in the 65th Assembly District, Niou is nonetheless counting on coalescing Asian support in Sunset Park East, whose Chinese population skews more Fujianese than the majority-Cantonese Manhattan Chinatown.
While Jimmy Li has no path to capturing the Democratic Party nomination, he is primarily backed by conservative business interests throughout the area, which could eat into Niou’s support overall, especially if her leftist messaging handcuffs her amidst a more moderate constituency.
Verdict: Advantage Niou.
After Bill de Blasio dropped out of the race, the coveted bullet vote in Borough Park, brokered by powerful Orthodox rabbis and community leaders, was up for grabs. However, Dan Goldman quickly worked to fill the vacuum, aggressively courting the Hasidic faithful with a mix of law-and-order messaging and help from hyper-local consultants. In spite of his disdain for Donald Trump - a popular figure amongst New York City’s Haredi Jews - Goldman won out, as leaders, organizations and rabbis coalescing behind his candidacy over the past week.
In order to maximize their political power, Brooklyn’s Orthodox communities typically vote in blocs. As such, Goldman will likely win at least 66% of the vote in Borough Park. Given that nearly 1,500 people voted in these precincts during the June Primary, Goldman could net an extra 1,000 votes at the minimum.
Notably, many overlapping precincts in Borough Park backed Trump over Biden by margins between 20-to-1 and 50-to-1. It would be quite ironic if Goldman - the hard charging, anti-Trump crusader - prevailed in a close contest due to the support of the same voters who overwhelmingly supported Goldman’s foil during the impeachment trial.
The former President’s “endorsement” of the race’s frontrunner is an especially amusing footnote, given the collective reaction to such news would differ markedly here than in other quarters of the district.
Verdict: Big Advantage Goldman.
Progressive Pockets (Brooklyn)
These racially heterogenous, mixed-income pockets - an amalgamation of election districts in South Slope, Gowanus, Prospect Heights, and the Greenwood Corridor - are flush with young left-leaning voters.
Unlike the majority-white, upper-class base who own their homes in neighboring Brooklyn neighborhoods, the class and racial composition includes a higher share of renters and remains only plurality-white, despite featuring some of the borough’s fastest gentrifying neighborhoods.
Of the election districts in NY10’s Progressive Brooklyn Pockets, Jumaane Williams earned a majority over Kathy Hochul, with turnout totally over eleven percent of the vote in the Congressional District at large. Last year, this base voted en masse for Maya Wiley, while helping power Alexa Aviles to the City Council.
While Yuh-Line Niou remains the favorite to earn a plurality of the vote here, both Carlina Rivera and Mondaire Jones stand to do well too - with Rivera earning a greater share of the vote in Greenwood and South Slope and Jones performing better in Prospect Heights.
While the three leading progressives - Niou, Rivera, and Jones - have varying strength in other districts, they should all expect to build on their vote totals here, with the hope of creating a cushion between themselves and Goldman. Without that, an upset will not be in the cards.
Verdict: Slight advantage Niou. Both Rivera and Jones also eclipse 20%.
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Located at the heart of the 65th Assembly District, Manhattan’s Chinatown rests at the heart of the district Yuh-Line Niou has represented in Albany for the past six years. Consequentially, Niou is the overwhelming favorite to net a considerable share of the vote throughout these Asian plurality/majority precincts.
However, Carlina Rivera managed to score endorsements from both ex-City Council Member Margaret Chin and State Committee member Jenny Low, two former allies of Niou who have defected amidst her opposition to an affordable housing development for seniors. While Chin and Low are not sitting elected officials, they retain support and influence with the neighborhood’s moderate institutions. Grace Lee, Niou’s centrist successor in Albany, has also endorsed Dan Goldman.
While Niou is still a shoe-in to pick up the most votes in this district, the question remains whether her left-leaning tendencies could cost her votes in an area that overwhelmingly backed Andrew Yang and Eric Adams.
Verdict: Advantage Niou.
Public Housing Developments
While defined by outsiders for its wealth, the Tenth district includes some of New York City’s largest public housing developments, the vast majority of which stretch across the Lower East Side waterfront.
In her campaign’s official launch, Carlina Rivera highlighted a myriad of endorsements from NYCHA tenant association leaders, many of whom were concentrated throughout her Lower East Side council district. These relationships, which stretch into Red Hook and Gowanus, coupled with Rivera’s history in Section 8 housing and overall strength with Latinos, places her in a strong position to achieve a plurality of the vote from folks in or adjacent to NYCHA developments - a subset which accounted for over six-percent of June’s electorate.
Rivera’s efforts to lead the East River Park Resiliency project, a drawn-out battle to insulate public housing residents from storm surges in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, has remained a frequent topic of conversation throughout the race. However, it remains unlikely that efforts to criticize Rivera for her leading role in the project will bear fruit at the ballot box - given Rivera handily defeated her council challenger last summer who framed the campaign as a referendum on the resiliency project.
While Simon’s connection to the Gowanus Houses, Niou’s volunteer army, and Jones’ own compelling public housing story will prevent a blowout, Rivera should comfortably lead the field.
Verdict: Advantage Rivera.
Manhattan’s (less) Progressive Pockets
While not as hospitable as their Brooklyn counterparts, Manhattan hosts a cluster of left-leaning voters throughout the Lower East Side, primarily in the professional class quarters of Alphabet City and the East Village. While Jumaane Williams lost these precincts by fifteen points - evidence of Manhattan’s center-left tendencies - Ana Maria Archila and Maya Wiley both achieved a plurality of the vote.
Despite ideological symmetry with the WFP-backed Niou, Manhattan’s progressive pockets rest at the heart of Carlina Rivera’s City Council District, giving her a distinct advantage with these voters, many of whom have twice sent her to City Hall with convincing margins. This tension over the district’s five-thousand plus voters is worth monitoring, considering this area exceeded eight percent of NY10’s electorate two months ago.
Both Simon and Holtzman, whose support is relegated to Brooklyn’s wealthiest zip codes, are not expected to be factors here. Theoretically, Jones should also impress this constituency, but Rivera and Niou’s ties to the area remains an asset he simply cannot match. Given his financial advantage, Goldman will remain competitive, but not to the point where he will finish towards the front of the pack.
Verdict: Slight advantage Rivera, then Niou.
Of my ten “districts”, Manhattan’s Elite Enclaves is the largest, comprising over one-quarter of the NY10 electorate, with over 17,000 voters in June’s Democratic Primary. Stretching from the Financial District and Tribeca to the West Village and SoHo/NoHo, the district is also the wealthiest and the most uniformly white (besides Borough Park), with a median income higher than both Brownstone Brooklyn and Park Slope/Windsor Terrace.
As such, the district’s voting patterns trend towards moderate, technocratic candidates. The New York Times endorsement, already a kingmaker in many of the Tenth District’s toniest neighborhoods, is the pre-eminent indicator of how a candidate will perform here. Kathryn Garcia swept every precinct last June, while Kathy Hochul crushed Jumaane Williams by over forty-six points throughout these affluent enclaves.
This projects well for Goldman’s ability to run up the score. Without an overlapping elected official in the race, Goldman, who lives in Tribeca, appears to be on the inside track to stringing wins together throughout these vote-rich election districts. Once more, demographic and class factors will work to his advantage.
For Rivera, Jones, and Niou - keeping Goldman’s margin in check will constitute a success. Jones, in particular, centered much of his opening pitch to NY10 voters around his affinity for the West Village’s history, both with respect to his own life as a gay Black man, and in the larger context of the LGBTQ movement. It will be interesting to see if his story resonates.
Verdict: Advantage Goldman.
At the Google Sheet link above, readers can access my “voter turnout template” - complete with The Ten Districts of NY10 - to create their own election predictions.
While the link is “view-only,” please click “File” and “Make a Copy” which should export the Sheet with every formula intact, allowing you to tinker with the data as you see fit.
Please let me know what you come up with !
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