Battleground New York? Warning signs flash for Biden as Trump gains ground in Empire State

New York boasts 28 electoral votes and its loss would likely prove a fatal blow to any Democratic campaign this cycle.

Published: July 10, 2024 11:00pm

Amid the intense scrutiny over whether Democrat President Joe Biden is mentally and physically fit for a second term, he appears to be losing ground in the Democratic stronghold New York – which hasn't voted in favor of a GOP presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Polls over the past four months show presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has cut Biden’s lead to just 8 points across New York, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1.

Meanwhile, Trump has a single-digit lead in essentially every battleground state – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – according to the most-recent poll average.  So any victory in a blue state, include New York with 28 electoral votes, would widen Trump's path to victory.

Despite the Democrats’ winning streak in New York, Trump has set his sights on winning his former home state and begun campaigning there and in New Jersey.

During his hush money trial, Trump’s options for campaigning were limited so he opted to pursue targeted stops to address key communities. And in early May, he held a large-scale rally in Wildwood, N.J.

“All across America, millions of people in so-called ‘Blue States’ are joining our movement based on LOVE, INTELLIGENCE, and, above all, COMMON SENSE," he recently said.

Democrats are sounding the alarm

With Trump putting on the pressure, New York Democrats have become increasingly aware of their situation and are urging the Biden campaign to invest the state. But such a move would have drawbacks for a campaign trying to reassure voters that Biden's halting June 27 presidential performance was merely a bad outing. 

“The money that needs to be spent here will be subtracted from other areas he’s going to lose,” former Democratic New York Gov. David Paterson told Politico.

Democratic Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine told the news outlet: “We’re still acting like this is a one-party state, which for pretty much 20, 25 years it has been. I truly believe we’re a battleground state now.”

They spoke at about the same time the nonpartisan Cook Political Report moved Arizona, Nevada and Georgia from "toss-up" to "leaning Republican” and shifted Minnesota and New Hampshire from "likely Democrat" to "lean Democrat."

Down-ballot fears

The potential for Biden to lose New York in 2024 has also raised concerns for New York Democrats about down-ballot races.

During the 2022 gubernatorial contest, former New York GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin’s near-successful campaign was widely credited with helping Republicans to win battleground House seats and flipping the lower chamber red.

On Wednesday, New York Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan became the eighth House Democrat to ask Biden to step aside.

“I’d be doing a grave disservice if I said he was the best candidate to serve this fall,” he said to the New York Times. "For the good of our country, for my two young kids, I’m asking Joe Biden to step aside in the upcoming election and deliver on the promise to be a bridge to a new generation of leaders.”

Other members of the state’s congressional delegation, including Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler and Joe Morelle reportedly voiced support for Biden’s dropping out during a call with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries over the weekend. 

Nadler appeared to make an about face on Tuesday, publicly insisting that “As the president said, 90% of Democrats voted for him in the primaries and that’s the end of the matter,” according to the Guardian.

Trump smells blood

Trump has long vowed to expand the electoral battlefield beyond the traditionally purple states and to push for Republican gains in left-wing strongholds such as New York and New Jersey.

His campaign has staged large-scale rallies and smaller stops alike in New York City and surrounding areas, hoping to appeal to Democratic constituencies.

"I believe we have a chance to win New York. I believe we have a chance to win New Jersey,” Trump said in January during an interview with Breitbart News. “If you look at Lee [Zeldin], he lost by a pretty close race."

He also seemed to suggest in the interview that New York City, under Democrat control, is in decline.

"It’s 100 times worse now than it was two years ago," he said. "You have migrants living on Madison Avenue.”

In March, he said: "New York state is a much different place now than it was even two years ago. ... We will be making a very heavy play for New York in the upcoming presidential election,” he said.

A Trump campaign spokesperson pointed Just the News to an array of economic, immigration and criminal data in claiming that "Biden has failed New Yorkers" – including the state having had cumulative inflation of 18.1% since January of 2021.

The spokesperson also pointed to multiple incidents of illegal immigrants facing charges for violent acts in the state. Included in those incidents was the case of Bernardo Castro Mata, an alleged illegal immigrant from Venezuela who allegedly shot two New York Police Department officers weeks ago.

Other states are on the table

Trump is also targeting Minnesota and Virginia as potential pickups.

A Trump campaign memo last month revealed plans to open 11 campaign field offices in Virginia and eight in Minnesota.

And last month, on day after his debate with Biden, Trump held a rally in Chesapeake, Va., alongside Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a potential running mate. 

“Joe Biden is so weak, and Democrats are in such disarray, that not only is President Trump dominating in every traditional battleground state, but longtime blue states such as Minnesota, Virginia, and New Jersey are now in play,” Trump Campaign national press secretary Karoline Leavitt told Just the News.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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