Photo Credit: Frank Collica

Rarely are New Yorkers treated to general election campaign buzz and in-person visits from the candidates themselves. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., stumped in Holbrook last month in his quest for Empire State ballot access, which he has recently obtained.

Now, Donald Trump, the man himself, descended on New York City to bolster speculation that New York is, in fact, in play for November.

The last time New York hosted a presidential rally was for George W. Bush (R-TX) in 2004. The last time the state was seen as remotely competitive on the presidential map was in 1988, when Michael Dukakis (D-MA) narrowly took the state over George H.W. Bush (R-TX) by just four points. The last time New York backed a GOP presidential nominee was in 1984 for Ronald Reagan (R-CA), when he won the state by eight points over Walter Mondale (D-MN).

Trump’s rally in New York is as historic as it is unprecedented. The fact that any major campaign would take the time and money to hold a rally here should signal that New York and its twenty-eight electoral votes are truly up for grabs. You could call it a bluff to scare the other campaign, but these elections are too high-stakes and too expensive for that kind of reverse psychology. Not to mention, should Biden attempt to call Trump’s bluff, it could result in a historic humiliation. Look no further than Trump’s multiple visits to Wisconsin in 2016, all while trusted state polls gave Hillary Clinton decent leads right up until Election Day, to the point where Clinton herself did not once visit the state in the general election campaign.

The result: Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate since Reagan to win Wisconsin, which promptly resulted in calls for recounts, decertification, and allegations of election fraud.

But Trump campaigning in New York is one thing. He could have visited a rural, Republican region Upstate. He could have made a play for one of the blue-leaning cities like Rochester or Syracuse. He could have come right here to Suffolk County, something we assume will happen as the campaign unfolds.

But Trump went straight for the jugular on this one: The Bronx, the most staunchly Democratic borough of New York City apart from Manhattan. For context, the last time The Bronx backed a Republican nominee was in 1924 for Calvin Coolidge (R-MA), also the last time a Republican has won all sixty-two New York counties and all five NYC Boroughs.

We don’t think Trump will win The Bronx outright, but campaigning there signals a true siphoning of reliable Democratic voters from residents who are more than just tired of New York’s antics and New Yorkers-last attempt at governance, they’re tired of being tired.

A reliable roadmap for the presidential landscape in New York is Lee Zeldin’s (R-Shirley) near-upset in the 2022 gubernatorial election. It’s been said that no Republican has a shot at New York on the statewide level unless they eclipse the legendary 30% of the vote in New York City. Zeldin hit that threshold, but social issues in upscale suburbs around the rest of the state cost him the governor’s mansion.

New Yorkers are now faced with a different ultimatum: two more years of Kathy Hochul (D) and Joe Biden simultaneously, or just two more years of Hochul. While Albany Democrats ensure that New York is no place for residents to remain and money to go far, it’s possible that many will feel that handing Trump the keys to the White House for another four years will at least find them some relief in other areas.

Trump spoke to roughly 25,000-30,000 supporters in Crotona Park last week, many of whom were not the white, backwards rednecks who dissenters assert make up the core of Trump’s base. Trump has a real shot to carry the momentum he’s been seeing with black and Latino voters, typically core staples of the Democratic Party who have been observed in recent polling data up and leaving the Party of Jackson.

Without minority voters, Democrats will never win another election again. That’s why race-based politics and racial dissent is so important right now. Democratic leaders can’t risk losing a core voting bloc that breathes existence into their plight, so turning things into a constant “us versus them” scenario will keep everyone angry enough to keep people voting the way they have been for generations.

Instead, Trump marched right into a majority-minority community and laid out his plan to people willing to listen. When Biden won’t listen, when Hochul won’t listen – and instead says black children in The Bronx don’t know what the word “computer” is – Trump will listen.

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