Wonky Wednesday:  City of Syracuse Enrollments


The City of Syracuse is the center of Onondaga County spiritually, politically, and physically.  Though it makes up only 24% of the registered voters the media market is dominated by the races in its borders.  This year proves to be no different as Mayor Ben Walsh (I) is up for re-election.  His unlikely 3rd party win in2017 was the rare non-Democratic victory in the last 20 years inside the City of Syracuse.  The elections in Syracuse tend to end after the June primary as the County GOP has all but given up running serious campaigns.  In 2021 in addition to the Mayor there will be a City Court Judge’s seat, the Common Council President, 2 councilor at-large, 5 district councils, and 3 Syracuse School Board seats.  


As expected the City of Syracuse is dominated by the Democratic party.  57% of the City of Syracuse are registered Democrats.  The next group of voters is actually voters not enrolled in a political party at 24%.  Republicans make up just 13% of the registered voters inside the City of Syracuse and the remaining 6% are Conservatives, Working Families, or other 3rd party voters.  The City is also broken up into 5 Common Council Districts.  The district lines have not been altered in over 20 years leading to an imbalance in population and voter registrations.  These lines will be re-drawn by a Citizen led redistricting commission however they will be in place for the 2021 elections.


The Democratic dominance in the City of Syracuse has not waned in the last 12 years.  In fact the GOP has lost significant ground, specially in the last 4 years.  The GOP has lost nearly a third of their enrolled voters since 2009 while Democrats have added to their total by nearly ten percent.  


Non-enrolled voters have become the 2nd bloc of voters in Syracuse and it is at an increasing rate.  Non-enrolled population overtook the GOP around the year 2001 during the election of Mayor Matthew Driscoll.  Since then non-enrolled voters have grown considerably.  Now Non-enrolled voters are nearly double the enrolled Republicans.  


The 5 Common Council districts are also overwhelmingly Democrat.  The 1st Common Council District though is the last bastion of the GOP.  Joe Carni has held this seat for 6 years after wresting it from the Democrats.   This is the only seat that has been obtainable for the GOP going back and forth for every two to 4 years since 2009.  The other 4 seats have been solidly in Democratic hands for two decades. 

Next week we will take a bird’s eye view of the suburbs and towns in Onondaga County which is where Republican’s have historically dominated but Democrats have had incredible growth over the last ten years.

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