Wonky Wednesday: The Towns of Onondaga County

Welcome back to #wonkywednesday. Each week I take a deep dive into the electoral and voter registration data that makes up our home here in Onondaga County and across New York State. Once again, I revisit how redistricting is impacting our county. This week I look at the Towns of Onondaga County.

Looking at the registration advantages in the towns we see there is a wide variety. In this chart I have color categorized each town. The City of Syracuse in Dark Blue is still the most reliably Democratic community. However, the towns of Dewitt, Salina, and Manlius in solid blue have significant Democratic enrollments. The Town of Clay in light blue has a slight Democratic Advantage. The towns of Camillus, Geddes, and Onondaga in purple are swing towns with almost even registration. The Town of Cicero in light pink has a slight registration advantage for the GOP. The solid red towns of Lysander, Van Buren, Skaneateles, and Marcellus have solid GOP advantage. Finally, the dark red towns of Elbridge. Fabius, Lafayette, Otisco, Pompey, Spafford, and Tully are the heaviest GOP areas.

As a whole it may surprise some that the Towns of Onondaga actually break Democratic in terms of enrollment. Democrats have a 33% plurality, just edging out the Republicans at 32%. The non-enrolled are at 28%, other parties at 5%, and Conservative at 2% with Working Families at less than 1%. The usual political alliance of conservatives and GOP as well as a more conservative N/E population teds to overwhelm any Democratic enrollment advantage. For purposes of looking at the suburbs by region I have categorized them into four geographic areas. The Eastern towns of Dewitt, Manlius, And Salina which has 28% of the suburban population. The Northern towns of Clay, Cicero & Lysander with 35% of the suburban population. The western towns of Camillus, Elbridge, Geddes, Onondaga, and Van Buren which has 26% of the suburban population. Finally, the Southern Towns of Fabius, Lafayette, Marcellus, Otisco, Pompey, Skaneateles Spafford, and Tully which makes up the largest land mass but just 11% of the suburban population.

The changing Demographics of the suburban population is what is driving the changes we see in Onondaga as a whole., especially since 2016. Since 2009 Democrats have gained 11,372 voters while the GOP has lost 5,220 voters. We really see in 2016 the GOP basically remained flat as the Democrats made solid gains each year and overtook the GOP in 2020. The Non-enrolled though is the biggest gainer with 12408 additional voters since 2009 and is becoming the swing voting bloc in the towns.

When we look at the regional registration differences, we do see a bit of a geographic trend. The Eastern towns have become the more reliably Democratic with Democrats getting significant advantages in all of the towns there. The Western towns are the swing towns with nominal advantages one way or the other in each individual town. The Southern Towns are the most reliable GOP with a significant advantage in enrollment there. The Northern towns though are the Neapolitan ice cream of Onondaga County. Together they seem like another swing region, but you have solidly red Lysander, slightly blue Clay, and slightly red Cicero combined together.

In 2009 only two towns had a Democratic enrollment advantage. The Town of Dewitt was just emerging as a reliably blue suburb and grew dramatically since. The town of Salina also grew significantly and votes blue in federal years but not in local years. Since 2009 Camillus, Clay, Geddes, & Manlius have made the jump to Democratic pluralities in their registration. Manlius seeing the most dramatic reversal from a solid red town to one of the more solid blue towns. Almost every town, with the exception of Fabius, has seen a shift towards the Democrats during this period as well.

The Trump effect is the biggest phenomenon driving the registrations in the suburban towns. Looking at the shifts toward Democratic enrollment in each town since 2016 (adjusting for WFP registrations being added to the Democratic totals and Conservatives to the GOP totals) we see that almost every corner of the suburban population is seeing these shifts in registration, with the exception of Fabius. It is too early to tell if this is changing post-2020. A good test will be leading into the 2024 election to see if there are shifts from 2020 that are significant differences from 2016.

The towns of Onondaga County are continuing to change, but turnout is always a factor. Though Democrats are starting to get an advantage, their turnout in local years allows the GOP to remain control in local offices. However, when turnout is higher the Democrats are seeing pockets of support grow in the suburbs. It will be up to grass roots organizers to take advantage of that support and grow it in the coming years.

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