Voter turnout in New York City fell sharply from four years ago, despite this election marking the state’s first time for early voting for a gubernatorial race. The low numbers proved to be a key factor in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s slim victory over Rep. Lee Zeldin.

Election night results show just 36% of New York City voters cast ballots for governor, compared to a 55% voter turnout rate in the rest of the state. The data does not include some absentee and provisional ballots.

The preliminary data shows the turnout rate across the five boroughs dropped 10% from 2018, while the voter turnout rate in the rest of the state fell by just 4%. That year, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo won re-election by 23%, which saw a “blue wave” nationwide.

That difference was crucial: Hochul, a Democrat, won by less than 6% in a reliably blue state that hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office in 20 years.

The win was too close for comfort for New York Democrats, who have spent the weeks following the election pointing fingers. Republicans flipped four of the state’s congressional seats, despite Democrats exceeding expectations in the rest of the country.

“There is a whole lot of voter apathy,” said state Sen. Jessica Ramos from Queens, where just 33% of active voters cast ballots for governor. “I think a lot of voters feel they were taken for granted. There was very little outreach. A lot of voters didn’t even get a mailer from the state Democratic Party.”

The Bronx saw the highest drop in voter turnout from four years ago. Fewer than 27% of the borough’s voters cast ballots for governor — a drop of nearly 15% from 2018. That contributed to Hochul receiving 110,000 fewer votes in the Bronx than Cuomo did four years ago.

“You would expect more of a dropoff in midterm elections in working class and more Black and brown counties like the Bronx,” said Mikael Haxby, head of organizing for New Kings Democrats, a reform faction in Brooklyn. “But the drop in New York was just so much bigger.”

Brooklyn saw an 8% drop in voter turnout from 2018.

Even many voters in Manhattan, the center of the state’s Democratic base, declined to vote. Turnout for the governor’s race in the borough dropped by 11% — to 43% — from 2018.

The drop comes even as state lawmakers rolled out more election reform measures to drive voters to the polls through early voting, which was introduced a year after the state’s previous gubernatorial race.

The only borough that bucked the trend was Staten Island, which saw a 3.5% drop in turnout from four years ago — a smaller dip than a majority of counties in the state.

Despite the anemic turnout, Hochul’s campaign claimed they were able to move a lot of votes.

"Compared to the most similar recent midterm cycle, New Yorkers turned out at historic levels to elect Gov. Hochul, who received support from more than 3 million voters,” said Hochul campaign spokesperson James Martin.

Turnout across the state is still up from 2014, a phenomenon some political strategists attribute to a rise in political action following President Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

But some elected officials fear that the tide is shifting: New York City saw a lower voter turnout this year than in any other statewide race since 2014.

“If no one’s giving them a reason to turn out, even if the stakes are high, then they’re going to stay home,” Ramos said.