Analysis: Spending Activity in NY-16


On Tuesday, June 24, New York held its primary elections for the 2020 cycle. In its 16th Congressional District, a safely blue seat, progressive democrat Jamaal Bowman has likely secured the nomination for the general this November, seemingly cementing his place in the 117th Congress, after declaring victory over incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel.

Political Ad Spend Analysis

Rep. Engel, who serves as the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was an incumbent hoping to vie for a 17th term this Fall. In 2018, Rep. Engel defeated his primary challengers garnering 73.68% of the vote and 22,160 total votes. Heading into the general election, Rep. Engel ran unopposed to secure his 16th term in the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to 2018, Rep. Engel faced a much tougher primary challenger this cycle in Jamaal Bowman, a former Middle School Principal from the Bronx. Bowman was supported by Justice Democrats, the same progressive organization that helped propel Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to her surprising upset of former Rep. Joe Crowley in 2018. Justice Democrats injected over $550K into Bowman’s primary campaign. Bowman also received powerful progressive endorsements from Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Rep. Engel out spent Bowman by nearly $300K across the primary. He also received several high-profile endorsements from centrists democrats Hillary Clinton, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi as well as several endorsements from prominent local leaders such as Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Westchester County Executive George Latimer. Even though he had spent more on the primary than Bowman and had several key national and local endorsements, leading into the June 24th primary, Rep. Eliot found himself trailing by 10 points according to a poll by Data for Progress.

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While the official result will likely not be determined until June 30 due to the large number of absente ballots still needing to be counted, Bowman currently leads Rep. Eliot by nearly 12,000 votes.

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