NY-22 Minute: Tenney Making National GOP Nervous By Luke Perry
Politico recently wrote an article on Claudia Tenney’s campaign for NY-22 concluding “Tenney’s red meat rhetoric alarms House Republicans.” Tenney has been out raised by Anthony Brindisi three quarters in a row, prompting concerns about her rhetoric and the vulnerability of the seat.
Tenney's bombastic “rhetoric is unusual for a swing-district Republican,” wrote Rachael Bade and Kyle Cheney, who often “prefer to talk about tax cuts and other pocketbook issues.”
Tenney has adopted the House Republican strategy of emphasizing The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and focusing on pocket issues, with particular attention on small business and dairy farming. The problem for Tenney is this message has been overshadowed by controversial statements and frequent negative attacks.
Representative Tenney “shrugged off the complaints from jittery Republicans, saying she has a better feel for the district than anyone.” Tenney claimed she won the 2016 Republican primary by 10 points and in NY-22 President Trump “polls 20 points higher now than he polled when he was elected.”
Tenney won the 2016 Republican primary by 8 points. Trump won NY-22 with 54 percent of the vote. There is no evidence supporting Tenney's claim that President Trump is now polling at 74 percent. This amount would be higher than any state he won in 2016.
Trump received the largest vote share in Wyoming and West Virginia, winning 68 percent of the vote in each. It is unlikely NY-22 is this supportive of President Trump, nor as supportive as other states where he received over 60 percent of the vote, including Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kentucky, South Dakota, Alabama, Tennessee, or Arkansas.
Last October the Siena Research Institute found that Trump’s popularity in New York fell to an all-time low. His statewide favorability was just 28 percent while just 23 percent of New Yorkers believed he was doing a good job.
Upstate New Yorkers were only slightly more positive. 35 percent viewed President Trump favorably, while 61 percent viewed him unfavorably. Just 27 percent believed the U.S. was on the right track. 63 percent believed the country was headed in the wrong direction.
After one year in office, President Trump was less popular nationally across every demographic group, including key constituencies, such as Southerners, Evangelicals, rural adults, military households, Republicans, Conservatives, and Tea Party Supporters. Trump's approval rating was even below 50 percent in 18 states he won in 2016.
These numbers are concerning for Republicans, particularly House incumbents. A President’s party has lost 36 seats on average in the midterms when the president's popularity is below 50 percent.
The Tenney campaign has not released any polling about the NY-22 race or President Trump.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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