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Anti-Trump Turnout Will Not Be Enough

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 12:25


In poll after poll this year, Americans have disapproved of President Trump by substantial margins. This month it has been more of the same. For example, Gallup found that 56 percent of adults were not happy with the president. Among likely voters asked by Fox News, the margin was narrower, with 48 percent approving and 51 disapproving of him. Top-rated polling organizations, including Marist College, found the president in a hole by 10 or more points going back to June. This means that Joe Biden is on track to win the popular vote with Election Day six weeks away.

Whether Mr. Trump’s low favorables will hurt him in Suffolk County is another question, one on which one of his chief supporter’s immediate political future depends. Lee Zeldin danced a jig all the way to re-election in 2016, as the Trump-Pence ticket well outscored Clinton-Kaine. That year, Mr. Zeldin even outdid Mr. Trump, netting about 58 percent of the votes cast in New York’s First Congressional District. Standing again in 2018, when turnout was about 50,000 voters fewer than two years earlier, Mr. Zeldin again went back to the House of Representatives with close to 52 percent.

A problem for Nancy Goroff’s campaign to unseat Mr. Zeldin is that the president’s disapproval rate in 2018 was just about the same as it has been this year, too. Despite being among Mr. Trump’s most outspoken backers in the House, that did not seriously hurt Mr. Zeldin. Nor did his Democratic opponent, Perry Gershon, generate enough enthusiasm.

Being in the House minority, Mr. Zeldin has had few victories to bring home to his district. Among his scant accomplishments he has pointed to in this year’s campaign is making a call to get personal protective equipment delivered to Long Island during the pandemic’s frightening first weeks.

This may help Ms. Goroff, since she would be in a presumed majority and more likely to score successes that would be meaningful here.

Over all, though, no matter how disliked the president is nationally, he and Mr. Zeldin have done well in the First District. Ms. Goroff’s campaign will have to tap into the anti-Trump energy and a whole lot more if she has any hope of getting to Washington this cycle.



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