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Primary Education: What Happened To The Bloc?

by Dave Zornow


Voting Districts in the Town of Ramapo where 85% of the votes cast in the September 10 Democratic Primary for County Executive were for Ilan Schoenberger.

“Ilan Schoenberger in a cakewalk.” — Facebook visitor weighing in before the Sept 10 Democratic Primary for Rockland County Chief Executive

That predication didn’t quite work out as expected. Despite the support of “The Bloc,” a reliable group of religious voters from the central part of Rockland County, Ilan Schoenberger didn’t win — and David Fried did. Former NYS Assemblyman Ryan Karben called the match up of Schoenberger’s core constituents versus Fried supporters, “Hudson vs. Hasidim,” a fight between the liberals in the the Hudson River villages and the religious East Ramapo vote.

If  bookmakers were setting odds on this race, they probably would have called it the same way that Facebook Guy did. After all, support from the Bloc had successfully elected Scott Vanderhoef as County Executive for several consecutive terms as well as Christopher St Lawrence as Ramapo Town Supervisor. And the Bloc’s ability to turn out votes for school elections has transformed the East Ramapo School District. If support from this group has been so decisive in the past, why didn’t Schoenberger win?

A NyackNewsAndViews analysis of Rockland County voting districts in the Democratic Primary shows that the Bloc DID turnout out for Schoenberger. However, its overall effect wasn’t strong enough to make a difference. About 20 voting districts cast 85% or more of their votes for Schoenberger — a sure sign that this group was loyal to the veteran Rockland County legislator. In ten of these districts, over 90% of the votes cast went for Schoenberger.

Turnout: Less than 20 Percent

Only about 2 in 10 (19%) registered Democrats turned out for the September primary where David Fried captured 52% of the votes with Ilan Schoenberger tallying 43%.

The source for this analysis is the Rockland County Board of Elections Unofficial District By District results for the Democratic Primary for Rockland County Executive (updated 9/24/2013).

  • Geographically, these districts are mostly contiguous, including the neighborhoods of Kaser, New Square and Monsey in Spring Valley.
  • Almost 3 out of every 10 votes (28%) that Schoenberger received came from these 20 districts.
  • Of the 275 districts included in this analysis, Fried won 210 with Schoenberger taking only 57.
  • Turnout in these districts was 11 points higher than the average for all of Rockland County (30% vs. 19%).  Several of these districts demonstrated off the charts election participation, with vote turnout as high as 69% in Ramapo District 58 and 60% in District 95.
  • Although not included in this “85 percent” analysis, several other adjacent voting districts, usually considered part of the Bloc, also turned out strong for Schoenberger including Ramapo 96, 103, 14 in Monsey (82%, 78%, 77% respectively) and Ramapo 98 and 55 in New Square (76%, 70%)
  • Schoenberger won the majority of votes in Ramapo (55%), based largely on his success in the Bloc voting districts. Fried won the other four Rockland County towns of Orangetown (74%), Clarksown (68%), Stony Point (62%) and Haverstraw (54%).
  • 8 out of 10 Democratic voters in Nyack and Piermont cast a ballot for David Fried. He did even better in South Nyack (88%) and Upper Nyack (92%).

What implications this has for the November General Election are unclear. As one Democratic Party political insider says, “the Bloc only wants to back a winner — they aren’t politically aligned with either party.” Given the above average voter turnout in historical Bloc districts and their disproportional vote for Ilan Schoenberger, this group shouldn’t be counted out — at least not yet. But it does show that even if a candidate wins the Bloc, they can’t prevail in the county wide vote without attracting a wider constituency.

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.

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