The Corner


The Source of New York’s Red Tide

I live in Queens, so I was paying close attention to last night’s Democratic primary (the only election that matters) for that borough’s district-attorney election, which leftist candidate Tiffany Cabán appears to have won by a razor-thin margin at about 10 percent turnout. The result, if it holds, continues the hot streak for left-wing outsiders in New York elections, and the race was pegged as “nationally significant” even before the tally came in. In recent weeks, Cabán earned endorsements not just from the Democratic Socialists of America and Bernie Sanders but also from Elizabeth Warren and the New York Times. Is this simply a sign that the DSA has upended the New York establishment and built a political apparatus that can succeed in low-turnout elections? Or could it mean the country will soon see a lot more candidates of Cabán’s persuasion holding local, state, and national offices?

I don’t have any definitive answers, but there’s reason to be skeptical about that latter possibility. As Vox’s Matthew Yglesias points out, Cabán’s support appears to be concentrated largely in whiter, gentrifying neighborhoods, while Katz’s base comprises largely black neighborhoods and older white neighborhoods:

So while Katz led in Queens Village, Jamaica, and Whitestone, Cabán overperformed in hipper Astoria, Sunnyside, and Long Island City (where, if you’re commuting to Manhattan, you’ll want to live). That roughly resembles the coalitions cobbled together last year by leftists Julia Salazar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Which means the story emerging in these races may not be about a multicultural, multigenerational working-class coalition electing socialist candidates, as some would have it, but about those candidates winning on the back of enthusiastic support from left-liberal gentrifiers. It’s clear the DSA has built a machine that can turn that enthusiasm into political success in citywide elections, even for candidates who want to decriminalize sex work (like Cabán) or who fabricated their personal history (like Salazar). It’s not clear that that will scale up — or how much working-class voters in the rest of the country will be inspired by my fellow gentrifiers’ political inclinations.

Update: The election has moved to a recount.

Most Popular


How to Bend the News

This, from ABC, is a nice example of a news organization deliberately bending the truth in order to advance a narrative that it wishes were true but is not: Venerable gun manufacturer Colt says it will stop producing the AR-15, among other rifles, for the consumer market in the wake of many recent mass ... Read More

Trump’s Total Culture War

 Donald Trump is waging a nonstop, all-encompassing war against progressive culture, in magnitude analogous to what 19th-century Germans once called a Kulturkampf. As a result, not even former president George W. Bush has incurred the degree of hatred from the left that is now directed at Trump. For most of ... Read More

George Packer Gets Mugged by Reality

Few journalists are as respected by, and respectable to, liberals as The Atlantic’s George Packer. The author of The Assassin's Gate (2005), The Unwinding (2013), and a recently published biography of Richard Holbrooke, Our Man, Packer has written for bastions of liberal thought from the New York Times Magazine ... Read More

Iran’s Act of War

Last weekend’s drone raid on the Saudi oil fields, along with the Israeli elections, opens a new chapter in Middle Eastern relations. Whether the attack on Saudi oil production, which has temporarily stopped more than half of it, was launched by Iranian-sponsored Yemeni Houthis or by the Iranians themselves is ... Read More