Should New York City Secede From the Empire State?

It’s an absurd proposition right? Well, in light of tensions between the City and state over plans to ease traffic congestion in the five boroughs (Bloomberg wants to impose higher bridge tolls), at least one pundit thinks its a good idea.

“There is only one real solution to this problem long-term,” writes the The Current’s Reihan Salam, “New York city needs to secede from New York state and take its fate in its own hands.”

It’s not the first time this idea has been floated. According to the Wikipedia page on the subject, secession has been semi-seriously proposed by New York politicians at least three times.

When I wrote the post about “The Collapse of the Empire State,” I spoke with demographer Joel Kotkin who thought that the “the City is the only thing keeping [the state] from bankruptcy.” So New York State probably needs New York City more than the city needs the state.

Of course, a rift would create two very different places: One wealthy and urban state dominated by Democrats where hundreds of languages are spoken, and one poorer, whiter Rust Belt state where Republicans have the upper hand.

The Big Apple would also probably be a reliably blue state while Upstate would be more purple. The rift will likely never happen, but if it did, who would gain more – the Democratic Party or the GOP?

Upstate-Downstate Divide (Wikipedia)

New York Regions

RED — New York metropolitan area (Downstate) ORANGE — New York City exurbs rural in character but arguably still within the New York City sphere of influence (possibly Downstate) YELLOW — The standard definition of Upstate New York, along with the lime region GREEN — North Country and Adirondacks, often called the “true” upstate by natives


4 responses to “Should New York City Secede From the Empire State?

  1. I actually gamed this out myself the other day. If you go north from the 19th District on up, “Upstate” has 11 Congressional districts – 7 Dem-held, 4 Repub-held. 6 have R+ PVIs (ranging from 0 to 5) and 5 have D+ PVIs (ranging from 3 to 15). You’d probably see that “state” send two Dems, or a Dem and a Specterish Republican – it would be a state like Minnesota or Wisconsin (which have similar PVI distributions).

    “Downstate” – the 17th and 18th on south – has 18 districts, 16 Dems and 2 Rs, with PVIs ranging from D+1 (Staten Island) to D+43 (Serrano’s South Bronx 16th district, the nation’s most Democratic) – median of D+24.5, average of D+22.6. This would probably be the bluest state in the country.

  2. “This would probably be the bluest state in the country.”

    Like a D.C., multiplied by 5.

  3. Really, though, I dont think the Democrats anywhere want to risk giving 14 electoral votes to the GOP.

    Especially considering the precedent it would set. Michigan would lose 10 or so electoral votes to the GOP if the state split. Illinois could lose 15 electoral votes if everything south of Chicago left. California could lose 30 of its electoral votes if the conservative uplands decided to split from the liberal coastal regions.

    On the flipside, if Florida split, 10 or more electoral votes from the southern half of the state would surely find their way to the Dems.

    There are far more ‘big prize’ states that the Dems can’t afford to lose than the GOP has.

  4. But and about the division of Texas?

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