Here’s Why a Former Cop and Republican Won Big in AOC’s District
Michael M. Santiago / Getty
"Social media does not select a candidate," said NYC Mayor leader Eric Adams on Tuesday night during a victory speech that sounded beyond the name. "People in social security choose a candidate."
Adams doesn't lie. The poorest black and brown boroughs of New York came and voted for the ex-cop, ex-Republican and multiple real estate owner who once said, "I am real estate," who had been slammed by various progressives who warned his demands were up An increased police presence would be detrimental to black communities. But the weakest voters seemed to favor him over Defund the Police candidate Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley, the former MSNBC spokeswoman who eschewed the slogan while effectively running against the NYPD and police unions and running for it leading progressives turned out she was supported by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren. As of now, it looks likely that Wiley will fall short, as Adams easily defeated her - and in the AOC district at that.
Instead, these vulnerable voters seem to prefer a man far from the radical voices that recently took New York by storm in Congress (and ended up supporting Wiley). Adams is the kind of man my uncle would vote for because he has the kind of worker boast that makes people like Wiley feel out of reach with their law degrees and elite credentials. Despite decades of New York politics and real estate ownership, Adams presented himself as anyone for everyday New York life.
Eric Adams carries a gun, wields dead rats, and may live in Jersey. He could be the next NYC Mayor.
Its apparent success suggests that progressiveness has reached a generation gap among black voters, which is also reflected in previous polls which showed that Adams dominated among older voters while Wiley rose with younger voters. While the racial riots have done something to shape political change in certain districts, larger citywide and national races are still catching up. We saw this last year when President Joe Biden was the front runner among black voters despite progressive black pressure on candidates like Warren and Julián Castro.
Wednesday turned out to be another victory for the moderates as Biden proposed funding more police agencies to combat gun violence - though activists and advocates of police reform have called for something else entirely. This follows the national trend for major cities to break previous statements of police accountability as homicides continue to rise.
"The crime historically increases in the summer," said Biden in his speech on Wednesday afternoon. "And if we emerge from this pandemic with the country reopening, the traditional summer surge may be even more pronounced than usual."
It has become clear that moderates like Biden and Adams can use such public fear to stand up to larger progressive demands that feel out of reach for general voters. Black voters are not a monolith, and while media coverage of black progressive activists is increasing, the polls still don't reflect the higher visibility of the matter.
Translation: Most black voters are more moderate than social media and mainstream media coverage suggests. It's time to unpack why.
The NYC Mayor's race could pit an ex-cop against a fake cop
For starters, it's really an age game. While black voters are overall more progressive, younger and more educated black voters are more likely to have progressive views (like their white counterparts). Older black voters tend to become more moderate and sometimes downright conservative.
That leaves the progressives two options: Either keep pushing their agenda and hope that demographics will eventually turn in their favor if (and it's a big "if") these younger progressives stay progressive as they age, or change their tactics, to address them a larger base. It has become clear that tougher police reform will take longer than some may have hoped.
The point is not to give up larger goals, but to find a more practicable way to achieve them in the years to come. If the marginalized don't get the message, it's time to go back to the drawing board and find out why.
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