Autopsy on Alfonse

A Look at the Real Numbers in '98 Sweepstakes

The state GOP committee put out a press release on this appearance saying Hevesi had "undercut" Schumer by "extolling" D'Amato, but no one in the media picked it up. Morris's partner, Mark Guma, issued a statement on Hevesi letterhead responding that Hevesi had also praised Schumer's "extraordinary record of leadership" during the same interview, noting that Hevesi had reiterated his endorsement of Schumer and predicted that he would "make a great senator."

Hevesi explained in the statement that he was merely discussing "D'Amato's strengths and weaknesses in objective terms," suggesting that Schumer wasn't. It was enough to remind observers that D'Amato publicly promoted Hevesi as a mayoral candidate in 1995 after Giuliani broke with the GOP to endorse Cuomo.

While minority pols, particularly Bronx Democratic boss Roberto Ramirez, have been boasting about turnout in this election, only 2707 more people voted in the 26 predominantly black and Latino city assembly districts than in 1997. Despite all of Ramirez's hoopla, turnout in the Bronx's four Latino districts was down when compared with 1997, 1994, and 1992. But in nearly all of these 26 districts, the margin of victory was way up. Schumer won by 354,467 votes in neighborhoods from Brownsville to Tremont. That was a 32,698-vote greater margin than Abrams had. And since Abrams was running in a presidential year, the turnout in 1992 was 156,592 votes higher. The remarkable jump in Schumer's margin— juxtaposed against such a sharp drop in turnout— means that virtually all the blacks and Latinos who went to the polls did so to vote Democratic.

Incredibly, with almost no difference in turnout between this year and last, Schumer got 186,343 more votes in the same districts than Ruth Messinger. That's how resoundingly those same blacks and Latinos who voted for Giuliani either stayed home or rejected D'Amato. Schumer won in those districts by 27,325 more votes than even Cuomo did four years ago. Since candidates run against each other, not history, it's only margins that matter, and 1998 was a year when minorities delivered breathtaking margins in district after district.

In the five black districts of southeast Queens, for example, where Floyd Flake was backing D'Amato, Schumer won by 77,601 votes, a margin wider than Messinger's, Cuomo's, or Abrams's by more than 10,000 votes. While not nearly as dramatic, Schumer's margin in the Bronx's four Latino districts was 4550 more than Cuomo's and 25,432 more than Messinger's. Research: David Kihara, David Shaftel, and Nicole White

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