Several, including Ms. Frankel, said they frequently read The New York Post, which made Mr. Zeldin’s candidacy for governor and the repeal of the state’s 2019 bail law a crusade for more than a year, splashing violent crimes across its front page, however rare they may still be. Many asked not to be identified by their full names out of fear of backlash from friends, colleagues or even strangers who could identify them online.
“I wouldn’t go into the city even if they paid me,” a retired dental hygienist said as she mailed a letter in Oyster Bay. A 41-year-old lawyer from Rockville Centre said she sometimes wondered if she would make it home at night alive. A financial adviser from North Salem in Westchester County said it felt like the worst days of the 1980s and 1990s had returned, despite the fact that crime rates remain a fraction of what they were then.
“I have kids who live in Manhattan, and I am every day scared,” Lisa Greco, an empty nester who voted all Republican, said as she waited at a nail salon in Pleasantville, in Westchester.
“I don’t want them taking the subways but of course they do,” she continued. “I actually track them because I have to know every day that they’re back home. Like, I don’t want to keep texting them like, ‘Are you at work? Are you here?’”
Republicans, led by Mr. Zeldin, a Long Islander himself, relentlessly fanned those fears, blaming Democrats for the small rises in crime while accusing them of coddling criminals. A deluge of conservative advertising only amplified the approach, which blamed the new bail law and a Democratic Party that has complete control over both New York City and Albany.
Crime statistics tell a more complicated story. Incidents of major crimes are higher in New York City and Nassau County than before the pandemic, though they remain well below levels seen in recent decades. In Westchester, Suffolk and Rockland counties, major crime has been flatter, though in the first six months of this year, property and violent crimes were up compared with the same period in 2021.