Voters not aligned with either party had only two choices in the race for governor of New York. And an independent reform group on Thursday argued both Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin failed to adequately win them over in the election.
The group Unite NY pointed to surveys conducted earlier this year showing independent voters backing changes to elections like ranked-choice voting, changing campaign finance laws and opening up the closed party primaries.
But neither candidate spoke much to these issues, making for a missed opportunity to win over independents amid the closest gubernatorial campaign in 28 years in New York.
“At a time when nearly 40% of New Yorkers have told us they are considering leaving the state, citing high-taxes and a broken political system as the reasons why, neither candidate made government reform an issue in this race," said Martin Babinec, the founder of the group. "Those voters were up for grabs and clearly many, frustrated with a variety of issues, migrated to Zeldin.”
Voters not enrolled in either party now outnumber Republican registration in New York. Many of these voters were once enrolled in a minor party ballot line, such as the Green, Libertarian or Independence parties. New ballot access laws effectively ended these parties' existence on the ballot this election cycle.
"Gov. Hochul could have secured the support of many of the three million voters not enrolled in either party, but she failed to address government reform as governor, and failed again to talk about it in her campaign," Babinec said. "Now that she’s been elected to serve a full term, we would urge her to reconnect with these voters and make government reform an immediate priority.”
Meanwhile, turnout was lower than previously gubernatorial contests. Only 38% of New York City's electorate turned out to vote, down from 47% four years ago.