more

Is Nixon Receiving ‘Too Much’ Coverage?

Is Nixon Receiving ‘Too Much’ Coverage?

NY State of Politics, August 3, 2018

The charge that Nixon is being a bit over-covered is one Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins has made publicly, pointing out that in 2014, he out-polled Cuomo on the Working Families Party ballot line that has now endorsed Nixon.

“Now the media is starstruck with actress Cynthia Nixon,” he said in a June email to supporters.

“As she challenges Gov. Cuomo in the Democratic primary with Working Families Party backing, the media give regular coverage to self-styled ‘progressive’ Democrats, which includes Cuomo as well as Nixon, Bill DeBlasio, Zephyr Teachout, and the rest of the WFP-endorsed Democrats.”

*****

by Nick Reisman

Another week, another not-so-great poll for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon.

It’s another metric that shows Nixon truly facing an uphill climb against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Nixon is barely scrapping out of the 20s in these surveys of both registered and likely voters. He has all the money, some $31 million. Cuomo has the advantages of incumbency he’s pressing harder than ever, using public events that appear to be virtual campaign rallies to make public appeals for special sessions that are unlikely to happen and rail against President Donald Trump.

Privately, Team Cuomo grumbles that Nixon is being over covered by star-blind reporters who are perhaps taking a bit too much delight in his rival’s dunks and haymaker-style one-liners against the governor from a celebrity actress.

They argue reporters “want a race” to punctuate what otherwise would appear to be a relative cakewalk to a third term for Cuomo.

But there’s a lot missing in that analysis, an oversimplification of both the media environment that Cuomo, a voracious consumer of political news and a print guy at heart, finds himself in as this decade draws to a close.

With nearly a month and 10 days to go before the primary, the Cuomo-Nixon battle is not just a test of the activist and youth-infused left or social media organizing in the age of Donald Trump, but also of how fractured the political-media complex has become and whether it can hold together for one more election cycle.

The charge that Nixon is being a bit over-covered is one Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins has made publicly, pointing out that in 2014, he out-polled Cuomo on the Working Families Party ballot line that has now endorsed Nixon.

“Now the media is starstruck with actress Cynthia Nixon,” he said in a June email to supporters.

“As she challenges Gov. Cuomo in the Democratic primary with Working Families Party backing, the media give regular coverage to self-styled ‘progressive’ Democrats, which includes Cuomo as well as Nixon, Bill DeBlasio, Zephyr Teachout, and the rest of the WFP-endorsed Democrats.”

Keep in mind, too, that Republican Marc Molinaro has been polling more competitively against Cuomo than Nixon in a general election match up and he’s barely received the same kind of coverage.

And this analysis also ignores the power of celebrity: Before Hawkins launched his first of three campaigns for governor, the Green Party turned to people to run for governor who had notoriety outside of politics, too. The party supported Al Lewis, the actor who played “Grandpa” on The Munsters and Malachy McCourt, a writer and brother of Frank McCourt, in the hopes of garnering votes to reach the 50,000-vote ballot status.

Politics is about power. Policy is the application of that power. Campaigns are arguments about taking that power away from other people.

Celebrity, or name recognition is a power in and of itself. That’s why, in part, Nixon receives more coverage than, say, Zephyr Teachout did in 2014.

And after all, the Cuomo name has been before voters in New York with some regularity since the 1970s.

And since that time, the media has changed. New York City’s major tabloid newspapers do not carry the political influence they once did. The New York Times, for conservatives, is seen as catering to an increasingly liberal and older base of readers and for progressives continues to kowtow too much to the right.

Younger voters and activists are getting their news from a range of websites that on the surface appear to be quite different, sites like Refinery 29 and The Intercept. But their readers have common denominators as well: They’re young, they’re in debt, they can’t afford the city they live in.

These readers, who Nixon’s campaign hopes to come out and vote on Sept. 13, were barely in their teens when Cuomo achieved his most significant legislative accomplishment, the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York.

The writers of these websites don’t know or particularly care about the nuances of, say, the Tier VI pension vote or the Independent Democratic Conference.

Meanwhile, the left has become increasingly restive with the election of President Donald Trump and the application of his policies — a touchstone Teachout did not have in 2014, and one Cuomo has sought to play up as a “resistance” leader himself.

But other things generate coverage on their own as well, including the Cuomo campaign’s reactions to Nixon, both official statements, critiques from his allies and, fairly or unfairly, official policy decisions favorable to progressives that Nixon’s campaign has called “the Cynthia effect.”

The victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez remains a key lifeline for Nixon in the race. Polls showed Rep. Joe Crowley handily defeating her, giving a convenient retort for the continued bad polling news for Nixon.

Cuomo has argued the comparison between him and Crowley is inexact or “apples to oranges.” And it’s tough to extrapolate out a congressional district primary results and a very different statewide electorate.

But there are personality differences as well.

Cuomo’s opponents have a tendency to underestimated him, incorrectly think he’s got a glass jaw or do not realize that he out works virtually everyone around him until it is too late.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Ready for the next step?

Sign up for our newsletter

- or -

Volunteer Donate

Search Howie's website and previous campaign archives here: