Cuomo’s Astorino Attacks Evolve

Here’s an analytical look at Governor Cuomo’s campaign speech today and a recent evolution in his attacks against Republican opponent Rob Astorino.  (Our full coverage of today’s Cuomo campaign rally in Times Square is here.)

Governor Cuomo gave a fiery speech today at his Times Square rally, attacking Republicans and what he described as the “hate” used by Republicans to “try to divide us.”  His speech differed from his usual stump speech, however, largely omitting discussion of his record in office.  He briefly mentioned marriage equality and raising the minimum wage, but otherwise omitted discussing his record.  There was no mention of passing on-time budgets, taming Albany dysfunction or hopes of passing the Dream Act, topics that are a big part of his stump speech.  He did discuss the “Women’s Bill of Rights,” usually referred to as the “Women’s Equality Agenda”, but gave that shorter attention than usual.  Cuomo instead focused on what he described as the importing of “hate” used by Washington, D.C. Republicans to New York.  On this his speech also reflected a recent evolution, as he’s more forcefully adopted that attack line of equating Astorino with the more angry and hateful Republican national voices.

He’s overwhelmed Astorino with TV commercials, surrogates and rally speeches describing Astorino as part and parcel of the more strident Republican voices.  There are many of them nationally, but Astorino is not one them either in terms of any national presence nor in terms of his personna.  Astorino is certainly one with many standard conservative and Republican positions, for example opposing same-sex marriage and abortion rights.  His voice, both literally and figuratively, is not one with the national Republican party, however.  Literally, he’s a cordial, friendly presence, albeit with a camera-ready smoothness that his early career in broadcasting presumably produced, and not an angry fire-breathing politician of the sort typified by many House Republicans.  Figuratively, he’s also somewhat distinct from many of those angry fire-breathing national Republicans.  On same sex marriage for example, he says that he opposes it, but that he will not seek to change New York’s law (engineered by Governor Cuomo) because “it was done the right way”, i.e. by legislative action.

As to the why behind Cuomo’s evolving and more nationally-focused attacks, perhaps the apparent national Republican electoral wave is a factor.  Public polls don’t seem to show that wave as likely to be particularly strong in tomorrow’s New York elections.  It’s possible that the Cuomo campaign sees that wave crashing in New York more clearly in their own polling and other analyses, however.  It’s also possible that the Cuomo campaign simply sees the national Republican paradigm as a useful foil.  We will of course not know until the votes are counted, but it feels increasingly likely that the political winds favoring Republicans nationally are strengthening in our state.