Reporters Predict Kennedy Win In Important New York Contest
The Campaign: IV
As recently as two weeks ago, James Reston was able to write in his New York Times column that of all the major battle-grounds of the campaign, New York was at once "the greatest prize and largest question mark."
With 45 electoral votes, New York is still the greatest prize; no longer is it the greatest question mark.
In the past ten days, veteran political reporters, editors, and pollsters have noted a distinct swing to Senator Kennedy; and a statewide poll taken by the New York Daily News, indicates that the rumblings may foreshadow a Democratic landslide.
A striking feature of the rising Kennedy tide has been the return to the fold by traditionally Democratic voters who switched to President Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. The most important factor determining the state's political complexion has been Kennedy's religion, the "silent issue."
In past national elections, Republican leaders have attempted to mobilize sufficient strength upstate to neutralize the expected plurality in New York City.
The factor of Kennedy's religion and shifting voting patterns in the state have altered this customary pattern. Three factors are cited as crucial by political observers: the Democratic boom in New York City, partial neutralization of Republican strength in the traditionally Republican suburbs outside of the city, and substantial Democratic inroads in upstate metropolitan regions.
Contacted yesterday, James Desmond, veteran political writer for the Daily News, stated flatly, "Nixon's dead in New York City." He anticipated a million-vote Kennedy plurality in the city, attributing this landslide chiefly to Kennedy's religion.
New York is a community of minorities. Southern anti-Catholic propaganda has angered and dismayed all minority elements in the city. Writing in the New York Post last Friday, Max Lerner seemed to sum up the sentiment of many New Yorkers on the religious question: "If the idea of equal access receives a set-back in 1960 for Kennedy as a Catholic, it will also be a setback for every minority group."
Throughout the campaign the substantial Jewish population of the city has been cool to Kennedy, despite the traditional Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party. Some observers have noted a warning toward Kennedy, but Desmond maintained flatly, "They don't like Kennedy, but they can't take Nixon."
Record registration in the city, driving the eligible voter total up to 3,622,196, has inspired local Democratic leaders like Mayor Wagner to predict a 1,000,000 plurality for Kennedy. With the latest Daily News poll indicating a two to one Kennedy plurality in the city, this estimate may not be excessive. Eisenhower came within 78,000 votes of capturing the city in the 1956 election.
If Kennedy can pile up a margin of more than 900,000 downstate, Nixon will have to win over 60 per cent of the rest of the state. And there is the rub.
The four suburban counties around New York City gave Eisenhower a $100,000 plurality in 1956. This year Nixon will probably win by only half this margin, according to Stanley Hinden, political writer for Newsday, a Long Island newspaper.
Causes of Decline
The causes of this decline are several. Once again the factor of Kennedy's religion will sway many Catholic voters in these counties. Hinden estimated the Catholic voting population in the two counties at 35 per cent. Another is the movement of factories and businesses to the suburbs, causing an influx of blue and white collar voters, who tend to vote Democratic.
A population boom in these suburban counties, which include Westchester and Rockland also, has sent registration figures soaring, making this area the wheel on which the state turns politically.
With Republican strength corroded in the suburbs, Desmond calculates that "Nixon will have to run 7 to 3 upstate if he is to have any chance at all."
From Buffalo, the second largest city of the state and the hub of heavily industrialized Erie County, Millard Brown, chief editorial writer of the Evening News, told the CRIMSON yesterday: "There's a pretty substantial Kennedy movement here, and he's pretty popular among suburban Republicans."
A combination of 65 per cent Catholic population in Buffalo and significant unemployment in the steel mills indicate a heavy margin for Kennedy, Brown said.
All over the upstate region the same pattern of Democratic strength in heavily Catholic urban regions emerges. This vote is expected partially to neutralize Republican margins in the rura counties. This pattern, it is predicted, will hold Nixon's upstate plurality to a figure considerably less than he will need to offset the expected landslide downstate