Wonky Wednesday: NY Redistricting, the Assembly Districts in Onondaga County

Welcome back to #wonkywednesday. Each week I take a deep dive into the election and registration data that makes up Onondaga County. Every ten years we change the shape of our districts that represent us on the US Congressional, NYS Senate, and NY Assembly lines. After the failure of the NYS “Independent” Redistricting Commission to draw a consensus map prompted the NYS legislature to take over the redistricting process this week. With Democrats having two-thirds control of each chamber and the Governor’s mansion this is the first time in several generations that they exhibit total control over the redistricting process. This week I am investigating the changes in the Assembly districts in Onondaga County.

Since 2020 the 126th Assembly District has been represented by John Lemondes (R).  He won election in 2020 after the retirement of longtime serving Assemblyperson Gary Finch.  The Old #NY126 spanned 4 counties and with portions of Cortland, Chenango, Cayuga, and Onondaga County.  The new #ad126 removes the Cortland and Chenango portions of the districts, adds Lysander, Pompey, Fabius, & Tully in Onondaga And the Cayuga portion removed the Southern parts and went through the middle of Cayuga County.  This district actually got more compact in redistricting increasing its compactness score from 17.1 to 24.6.

The 126th Assembly District has traditionally been GOP leaning district.  Assembly member Finch won his election in 2018 by 13.0 points.  Likewise Lemondes won his election in 2020 by 13.6 points.  This is despite an electorate leaning towards Democrats.  Trump won this district by 2.6 points in 2020.  The new district does make this district more Democratic.  If the 2020 election were held in the new district Biden would have won this district by 2.4 points.  While a 5 point swing is significant the margins of recent victories by the Assembly members in the district suggest that swing may not be enough to tilt the district to the Democrats. Of note though is that many of the towns in Onondaga County and the City of Auburn in the district are trending more and more Democratic over the last ten years.  If that trend continues this new district could become competitive with the right candidate.

The 127th Assembly district has been represented by Assemblyman Al Stripe from 2006 to 2010 and then from 2012 until today.  This district has long been seen as a swing district with Republicans up until recently outnumbering Democrats.  The old #AD127 circled clockwise around Onondaga County.  It included the Towns of Clay, Cicero, Manlius, Pompey, Fabius, and Tully.  In the new maps #AD126 lost Pompey, Fabius, and Tully and replaced it with the Town of Cazenovia in Madison County.  This makes the district slightly less compact dropping from a compactness score of 18.5 to 16.0.

Despite the closeness in registration Al Stirpe since 2012 has had relatively easy re-election campaigns, He soundly beat Nick Paro (R) in 2018 by 15.7 points.  He also beat Mark Venesky supervisor of Cicero by a solid 8 points.  President Biden won this district by 10.6 points in 2020.  The new district is a tad more Democratic leaning as President Biden won the new district by 12.0 points.  Though Al Stirpe has had competitive races, namely the margin thin loss in 2010, since then he has relatively won reelection easily since 2012 and this district gets a little more Democratic for him in the future.

#AD128 has been represented by Pamela Hunter (D) since the retirement of former Assembly member Sam Roberts in 2015.  This district encompassed the inner city and East side of Syracuse while also representing the towns of Salina, Dewitt, and Onondaga.  The new district remains virtually unchanged with only a few small city election districts being added to it for population balance.  The compactness score of this district is 15.1.

Pam Hunter had no opposition in 2018.  In 2020 she was able to defeat a relatively unknown GOP candidate by 28.5 points.  Biden won the old district by 24.8 points and the small changes to the new district would not change that. She is one of the few candidates that exceeded Biden’s performance in her district. 

#AD129 has been represented by William Magnarelli (D) since 1998.  This district snakes around the City of Syracuse going counter-clockwise from Eastwood, to Sedgewick, to Little Italy, down to Tipp Hill, Strathmore, the lower parts of the Valley and then up into Syracuse University.  It also adds the Towns of Geddes and Van Buren.  The new district is again virtually unchanged with a few inner city and eastside districts given back to #Ad128.  The compactness score of this district went from 13.1 to 13.0 and is rated the least compact of the Onondaga County Assembly Districts.

Bill Magnarelli was contested in 2018 and 2020 and won handily.  A whopping 50.4 point win beating Edward Ott in 2018.  He then beat another Edward, Edward Webb by 31.1 points in 2020.  Biden won this district by 24.2 points in 2020 and the new district remains unchanged.  This seat in performance may be one of the safest Democratic seats in Onondaga County.  Bill Magnarelli is the other area elected that outpaced Biden and there is no reason to believe this seat is in danger of being challenged by the GOP anytime soon.

Onondaga County did lose one Assembly district during the redistricting process.  #AD120 represented by Assemblyman Barclay (R) the minority leader in the NY Assembly.  The only portion of this district that was in Onondaga County was the Town of Lysander as the district snaked up to most of Oswego County and a portion of Jefferson County.  The new district removes Lysander but unites all of Oswego together with even more towns in Jefferson and a few in northern Cayuga.  Because this district is no longer in Onondaga County I am not doing an analysis of it but I wanted people to see how this district changed and was removed from Onondaga County.

That is it for this week.  As with last week a big shoutout to The Graduate Center at CUNY professor Steven Romalewski and his team for putting together an amazing resource to quickly analyze these changes.  Our Biden ratings and Compactness scores were found there. Go to newyork.redistrictingandyou.org and explore your Congressional, Assembly and Senate maps.  Next week I will dive into the census data and voter registration rates for Onondaga County.

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