Wonky Wednesday:  The Towns of Onondaga County


Welcome back to Wonky Wednesday.  Each week I take a deep dive into the registration and election data that define politics in Onondaga County.  Today I am taking a birds eye view of the Towns of Onondaga County.  As we saw with last week’s Wonky Wednesday focused on the City of Syracuse, the Towns actually make up over 75% of the enrolled voters of Onondaga County.  With such a large amount of voters in the suburban and rural parts of Onondaga County it is the place where Democrats need to grow to be successful.  Luckily, like most of Onondaga County, the voter enrollment in these towns are trending our way.


The Towns of Onondaga County as a whole has seen tremendous growth since 2009 in enrolled voters.  Since 2009 they have added over 25k net voters, a growth of 12%.  Most of that growth has been 2016 when online DMV registration made it easier to register.  It remains to be seen whether this is a sign of population growth or registering previously unregistered voters.  It is likely though a combination of both.


The key to Democratic growth in Onondaga County has been the rise in enrollment outside the City of Syracuse.  In 2020 for the first time Democrats outnumbered Republican voters who had seen stagnation or falling of their registrations before the 2020 election.  While both parties gained in registered voters last year, the Democrats gain continued to outpace the GOP.  Also growing in strength is the number of voters who are not enrolled in a political party.  These voters will play as decisive swing voters in County Legislator and Town races up and down the ballot this year.


Despite growing in numbers, the Democrats still only have a partisan advantage in only 6 of the 19 towns of Onondaga County.  Dewitt was recently joined by Manlius as solid blue towns that can be counted on in local and federal years to deliver voters and a have seen the largest growth in Democratic votes.  Salina and Clay have seen great swings of enrolled Democrats however has not been able to capitalize on a local level.  Geddes & Onondaga haven’t recently joined the ranks of towns with a slim but growing Democratic plurality.  Camillus is on the edge of becoming a Democratic plurality town, and probably will before the primary this year if trends hold up.


In fact there is not a town in Onondaga County where Democrats haven’t closed the gap.  The southwestern corner of Onondaga County seems to be growing Democratic with towns like Skaneateles, Marcellus, and even Spafford joining the trend like Camillus though may take a few more cycles to join Camillus in flipping.  Lysander and Van Buren in the Northwestern corner, once GOP strongholds, are trending Democratic.  However the large voter advantage that existed for decades may take significant time to count on flipping those towns.  Similar markets situations in Tully and Pompey are happening with Pompey electing a few Democrats last year. The only Towns where the GOP is holding its own are the rural towns of Elbridge, Fabius, and Otisco along with the heavily populated Cicero.  In these towns the GOP advantage in sheer numbers have grown, but the non-enrolled voters out pace them so the overall percentage of Democratic enrollment has risen, though it is a small insignificant, amount.

I will be analyzing each individual town over the next 5 months and look at how each has grown in Democratic enrollment (or in some cases not grown).  I will also look at how these towns have faired in some of the more significant races of the last two years.  

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