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Demographics could be reason Democrats come out on top in the State Senate

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Albany/HV: Demographics could be reason Democrats come out on top in the State Senate
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It seems that Senate democrats will take control in Albany when all the ballots are counted on some still undecided races. And while a lot of people are taking credit for their performance on Tuesday, a closer look at enrollment numbers reveals that the election may have been more about changing demographics than anything Democrats did. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has the story.

NEW YORK STATE -- Republicans in the State Senate entered this election year in a strong position. They had the cash and they drew their own district lines to keep and even expand their 33 member majority. And yet, Democrats are on the verge of returning to power for the second time in four years. It's another blow to the weakened Republican Party, which is now outnumbered two to one by Democrats in New York.

“Other than George Pataki, the last Republican to win statewide was Dennis Vacco for Attorney General in 1994, the last Republican presidential candidate to carry the state was Ronald Reagan in 1984,” Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg said.

The State Senate is the last power base Republicans control statewide in New York. They were tossed out of power in 2008, the last presidential election year, but came roaring back in the GOP wave election of 2010.

Greenberg said, “District by district, they tend to better and they tend to do better in gubernatorial election years rather than in presidential election years and that's because more of the casual voters in New York tend to be Democrats than Republicans.”

Two Senate races must be decided by absentee ballot. And even if Democrats achieve a 32 member majority, they must reconcile with a four member breakaway conference along with a Democrat elected in Brooklyn who hasn't said who he'll support in the chamber. Still, the enrollment trends show the GOP faces a severe disadvantage in future election cycles.

“It's hard not to come to that conclusion and when you take math classes and we graph out and we draw the lines, the lines are favoring the Democrats in the State of New York. If it's not now, it will be two years from now,” said State Senator Neil Breslin.

Observers of state government recall the last time Democrats gained power dysfunction and chaos reigned for two years. Governor Andrew Cuomo says he's not getting involved in the fight for Senate, but says the party has learned its lesson.

Cuomo said, “No one is going back. I think they learned the hard way. Democrats were in power, the Democrats then lost power because of the dysfunction and I think they learned that lesson the hard way.”

Democrats control every statewide office in New York. On the federal level, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand won her race with a record setting 72 percent of the vote over her little known Republican rival.

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