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Obama’s 81% New York City Support is Best in 114 Years

By Greg Giroux
January 10, 2013 12:00 AM EST 717 Comments
People celebrate in Times Square as it is announced President Obama has been re-elected in New York City on Nov. 6, 2012. Obama broke his own record of 79 percent support in New York City in the 2008 election.
Photographer: Mehdi Taamallah/AFP/Getty Images
People celebrate in Times Square as it is announced President Obama has been re-elected in New York City on Nov. 6, 2012. Obama broke his own record of 79 percent support in New York City in the 2008 election.

President Barack Obama won more support from New York City in November’s election than any White House candidate in more than 100 years, according to a final tally of votes.

Obama beat Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 81 percent to 18 percent in the nation’s largest city, according to a certified vote count released Dec. 31 by the state board of elections. Some New York ballots were counted late in part because of complications caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Obama’s share of the vote is the best showing by a presidential nominee in New York since its five boroughs were consolidated in 1898, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the state elections board and the 2005 books “America at the Polls” and “The Encyclopedia of New York State.”

The results underscore New York’s decades-long status as a Democratic bastion where most residents are racial and ethnic minorities. Of the city’s 8.2 million residents, 29 percent are Hispanic, 23 percent are non-Hispanic black and 13 percent are non-Hispanic Asian, according to 2011 estimates from the Census Bureau.

“Demographic shifts are permanently changing the political landscape,” said Bruce Berg, a political scientist at Fordham University in New York. Census data show New York “is a more minority city than it already was,” he said in a telephone interview.

Coolidge Results

Republican presidential candidates have taken less than one-fourth of the city vote in each of the past six elections. Calvin Coolidge in 1924 was the last Republican presidential nominee to win New York.

Obama broke his own record of 79 percent support in New York in the 2008 election. His showing four years ago topped the 78 percent that Al Gore won in the city as the 2000 Democratic nominee.

The president in his re-election win improved on his 2008 showing in four of the city’s five boroughs. He rose to 91 percent from 89 percent in the Bronx, to 82 percent from 79 percent in Brooklyn, and to 79 percent from 75 percent in Queens, and carried Staten Island with 51 percent after taking 48 percent and losing the borough in 2008.

Manhattan, which includes Wall Street, is the one borough where Obama’s support edged downward, falling to 84 percent from 86 percent four years ago.

The Bronx has been New York’s most Democratic borough in each of the past five presidential elections, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It is one of the nation’s poorest areas, with a median household income of $32,058 in 2011. More than 80 percent of residents are black or Hispanic.

The Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn “still have fairly strong Democratic Party machines that get out the vote, and I suspect they were well-mobilized for the presidential election” and other political contests, Berg said.

Turnout in the city fell to 2.45 million votes from 2.62 million in 2008, when Obama when as elected the nation’s first black president amid a financial crisis that took hold at the end of Republican George W. Bush’s administration.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net

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