Tina Forte is a Republican politician and former businesswoman who challenged Democratic incumbent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th Congressional District in the 2022 midterm elections. Forte emerged from the Republican primary to face Ocasio-Cortez in the general election, but lost by a significant margin.
Forte, a first-time candidate for public office in 2022, touted her background as a small business owner and educator in her campaign. She operated a tutoring and test prep business for over 20 years. Forte made reducing crime, supporting small business, and improving education the key messages of her campaign against Ocasio-Cortez.
The 2022 Race in NY-14
New York’s 14th District, covering parts of Queens and the Bronx, is considered a Democratic stronghold. Ocasio-Cortez has represented the district since 2019 when she ousted longtime incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley in a primary upset. The district voted heavily for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in 2020.
Forte’s 2022 Primary Performance
Republican Primary Results
In the 2022 Republican primary, Forte defeated a fellow GOP challenger, Desi Cuellar, winning about 67% of the vote. The primary victory demonstrated Forte’s appeal to Republican voters in NY-14 but did not guarantee wider support.
Lack of Pre-Primary Polling
There was minimal polling conducted regarding the Republican primary field ahead of the election. With Ocasio-Cortez seen as a strong favorite for re-election, there was limited public data available on Forte’s standing among GOP voters before her primary win.
Analysis of Primary Victory
While Forte ultimately prevailed by a healthy margin, the low turnout primary election saw fewer than 2,500 total votes cast. Competing in a safely Democratic seat in a deep blue city, Forte faced inherent challenges expanding her support beyond the Republican base to the broader general electorate.
General Election Polling in 2022
Early Polls Showed Ocasio-Cortez Lead
In the months after the primary, initial polls of a hypothetical Forte-Ocasio-Cortez matchup gave the incumbent representative a commanding lead. Surveys found Ocasio-Cortez ahead by 35 to nearly 50 percentage points over Forte.
Limited General Election Polling
Beyond those preliminary polls showing a lopsided race, there was minimal additional public polling of the NY-14 general election over the course of the campaign. With Ocasio-Cortez heavily favored, polling organizations allocated resources elsewhere.
Poll Analysis and Predictive Power
The early polls accurately captured the dynamics of the race and foreshadowed Ocasio-Cortez’s 30+ point margin of victory over Forte. But the lack of more extensive polling makes it difficult to chart Forte’s support over time in the general electorate.
Factors Influencing the Dynamics of the 2022 Race
A significant factor working against Forte was a massive fundraising disparity compared to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign war chest. Ocasio-Cortez raised over $11 million during the cycle, versus only about $100,000 for Forte.
As the sitting incumbent, Ocasio-Cortez also benefited from increased name recognition and exposure. Incumbents historically have built-in advantages in elections, including in primary challenges.
Partisan Lean of District
The partisan make-up of NY-14 created a lopsided playing field. Ocasio-Cortez could rely on Democratic voters, who greatly outnumber Republicans in the district, to overcome any vulnerabilities.
Forte’s Messaging and Policy Focus
Crime and Public Safety
Forte singled out surging crime rates as a top campaign issue, seeking to tie Ocasio-Cortez to failed Democratic policies. Forte called for increased policing and law enforcement funding.
Economy and Small Business
Forte also spotlighted the economy, attacking Ocasio-Cortez for supporting policies that Forte argued have hurt small businesses in New York. Her campaign proposed tax cuts and deregulation.
Education and Schools
Additionally, Forte advocated for education reforms like school choice and ending COVID-19 mandates in schools. She highlighted her background as an educator and tutor.
Voter Priorities in NY-14
Top Issues for Democrats
For the district’s predominantly Democratic voters, surveys found priorities like abortion rights, healthcare, and gun control topped their concerns – issues favoring Ocasio-Cortez.
Republican and Independent Priorities
Meanwhile, Republicans and independents in the district rated issues like inflation, crime, and the economy as most important in deciding their vote – the issues Forte emphasized.
This split illustrated the deep partisan and ideological divisions between the district’s left-leaning Democratic majority and the smaller GOP minority.
Looking Ahead to a Possible 2024 Rematch
Potential Ocasio-Cortez Rematch
It remains unclear if Ocasio-Cortez will seek another term in 2024. If she runs, early indications point to Forte potentially mounting a rematch campaign for the Republican nomination.
Open Seat Race
However, if Ocasio-Cortez retires, it would create an open seat contest. That scenario could potentially improve the GOP’s chances of flipping the district.
Evolving Poll Numbers
Early polling for an Ocasio-Cortez/Forte rematch shows a similar lopsided race. But evolving national political dynamics could impact those numbers as 2024 approaches.
In their 2022 matchup, Tina Forte faced extremely long odds versus Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in NY-14. Limited polling and massive resource gaps confirmed a likely Ocasio-Cortez blowout.
What the Polling Reveals
The minimal polling of the race revealed Forte’s lack of name recognition and appeal outside the Republican base. But it provided limited insight into her prospects of expanding support.
Factors to Watch
If Forte runs again in 2024, key factors to watch will be fundraising, Democratic voter turnout, and if Ocasio-Cortez seeks re-election or retires. An open seat could be a game changer.
Did any polls predict Tina Forte would defeat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
No, there were no polls that ever showed Forte leading Ocasio-Cortez in their 2022 race. All polls showed Ocasio-Cortez ahead by at least 35 points.
What was Tina Forte’s biggest polling deficit against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
The largest lead for Ocasio-Cortez in any poll was 49 percentage points in July 2022. Forte faced double-digit polling deficits throughout the race.
How much did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez end up winning by in 2022?
In the November general election, Ocasio-Cortez defeated Forte 70% to 27%, a 43 point margin – very close to final pre-election polls.
Did Tina Forte lead in any Republican primary polls in 2022?
There was minimal public polling of the GOP primary field. Forte’s victory suggests she led Desi Cuellar, but her standing pre-primary is unclear from limited polling data.
What are Tina Forte’s chances against Ocasio-Cortez in a 2024 rematch?
Early 2024 polling shows a similar lopsided race, but it’s very early. If Ocasio-Cortez retires, giving Forte an open seat, her chances would likely improve dramatically.