Sarah Cowgill

Former President Donald Trump stormed into deep blue territory [on] May 23, to rally the voters. Under sunny skies and the mid-70s temps of a perfect spring day, the Donald stood firm in the Bronx and reminded the people of New York state what they have been missing: safety, cleanliness, and freedom in the world’s most iconic and energetic city. Some might even say he hit it out of the park for an estimated 25,000 city folks.

“I’m here tonight to declare we are going to turn New York City around, and we are going to turn it around very, very quickly,” Trump began, promising to focus on safer and better schools throughout the city. “We are going to make New York bigger, better, and greater than ever before.”

A Surgical Approach

Most Trump rallies follow the same talking points of restoring the country’s reputation and standing on the national and global stage. This one was different: The former president focused it all on the state and especially the city of New York. He reminded people about the joy of living in a vibrant city without rampant crime, mentally disabled and sometimes violent people unhoused and uncared for roaming the streets, and thousands of undocumented migrants taking over neighborhoods and costing the taxpayer millions of hard-earned dollars.

“These millions and millions of people that are coming into our country – the biggest impact and the biggest negative impact is against our Black population and our Hispanic population,” Trump said to cheers and whoops.

Of course, number 45 laid the blame at number 46’s orthopedic sneakers, calling the man “grossly incompetent” and saying that Biden was not “getting the job done” for the neighborhood he was in.

“If a New Yorker can’t save this city, no one can,” Trump declared. The applause was deafening.

Another ‘pause for applause’ line occurred when Trump vowed to work with New York City Mayor Eric Adams in renovating the subway system, to find homes and shelter for the unhoused and mentally ill, and to bring the city back to its glory days. “We are going to renovate New York’s subway system, so it no longer looks like it hasn’t been cleaned since 1932.”

There was plenty of drama, of course. At one point, there was a medical emergency in the crowd. Trump saw it and asked for a doctor or some other medical professional to bring this person water. It was a tense few minutes before those who rushed to help gave him the thumbs up. Trump’s patented fist pump appeared, and he thanked those who jumped in to help.

And not to bury the lede, but note this: The crowd was not the usual stadium venue MAGA assembly. Crotona Park was a different shade of red in a neighborhood of mostly Hispanic and black residents. They were not in any way the minority supporters of Trump that the drive-by media hark about. In fact, attendees reflected New York’s diversity: Even Hasidic Jews were wearing MAGA swag, and others were holding signs with Trump’s mugshot and the slogan “Never Surrender.”

Trump and the Seismic Shift

It’s okay to say this out loud: Before Donald Trump, the GOP was more inclined to keep to the trickle-down theory of the Reagan years. That landscape has been painted over many times since 2016. The Republican voter under Donald Trump is working class, blue collar, or no collar. The Hispanic voter is leaning heavily towards the Republican Party in some areas like Texas and Florida. The black voter is edging away from the Democratic Party – at least in terms of supporting President Joe Biden – and that will have an effect, even if not a particularly big one, on Biden’s chance of re-election.

In 2016, Trump won less than 10 per cent of the vote in the Bronx. That support crept up to 16 per cent in 2020, but current polls show a seismic shift in support. A Siena College poll released before the Bronx rally had Biden leading Trump in New York by only nine points – 47 per cent to 38 per cent.

No Republican presidential candidate has even campaigned in New York City for decades. If Trump pulls the Big Apple out of his hat this November, he’d be the first to win the Empire State in decades.

“Who said we’re not going to win New York?” Trump said. “We’re going to win New York.”

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