"Republicans nationally just had one of their best days ever -- but New York stands out as one of the few places that the wave missed. Every Democrat running for statewide office won, three in landslides, plus Attorney General-elect Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who'd both been thought vulnerable to defeat by attractive Republican opponents.
More significant, the Democrats may have kept their 32-30 control of the state Senate, and they re-elected almost all of their Assembly members, despite poll numbers showing voters were disgusted with Albany governance."
OK, New York isn't completely different: Democrats lost at least five House seats and seven to 10 Assembly seats. Democrats did fairly well in a few other states on Tuesday, among them California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Hawaii.
But, compared to most of the country, we certainly voted differently -- and have for at least a decade.
While there are many reasons for this, a crucial one is organized labor. New York has more than 2 million union members, second only to California -- more than 25 percent of workers here are union members, tops in the nation.
And New York unions are politically active. Some limit their actions to donating to favored candidates; others make sure their members are registered to vote and inform them of which candidates support the union's positions.
But many do much more -- from forming the base of the Working Families Party (which was remarkably successful in last year's New York City Council elections) to having union members canvass or phone voters in close races.
A personal example: Last Friday, someone helping Republican state Sen. Frank Padavan told me that the campaign was worried because the United Federation of Teachers was making a major effort on behalf of his Democratic opponent, former City Councilman Tony Avella.
This was the first I'd heard Padavan might be in trouble; internal polls supposedly had him with a big lead. But the teachers unions can be quite effective: I served as a consultant this year for an incumbent assemblywoman who lost the Democratic nomination by 56 votes -- and whose opponent was encouraged to run by the New York State United Teachers, which was his largest contributor.
The unions were effective again. Avella was one of two Democrats to take a GOP Senate seat; the other was David Carlucci in Rockland County. UFT President Michael Mulgrew told me that hundreds of union members campaigned for both candidates, with members from Manhattan and The Bronx going to Rockland.
Mulgrew also says the union was active on behalf of Tim Kennedy, a Democratic Senate candidate in Erie County, who was defending a seat that most observers thought was hopeless -- but who won.
Conversely, the two Democratic senators who lost were not endorsed by either the teachers or the AFL-CIO, as is one whose race is too close to call, which may determine who controls the Senate.