The Weekly Wonk: New York’s 22nd Congressional District

Welcome to the #weeklywonk. This is my weekly blog about statistics, registration data, and election law on my website, This is a rebrand of my #wonkywednesday and #sundaythoughts columns I have been writing since 2020. In merging these two side projects together I am hoping to be a little more regular in my production. I have also not tied myself to a particular day to release these columns, hoping to release them weekly on the weekend. This way I can have more time to gather the statistics and resources that I want to devote to these articles. This week I return to our General Election registration previews with the monster of local elections this year, the newly formed #NY22.

#NY22 is the new Central New York district. #NY22 is a legacy district from the old #NY24 which has been represented by John Katko (R) since 2014. In the wake of his vote to Impeach former President Trump Representative Katko decided not to run for re-election. The Central New York seat was seen as a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats before Katko’s decision, and now that it is an open seat it is seen as one of the most competitive in the nation. The late redistricting process and August Primary has now seen two candidates emerge as Katko’s would be successor, Francis Conole (D), and Brandon Williams (R).

The New York redistricting process reshaped the Central New York congressional district as well. The old #NY24 had Onondaga County as the focal point of its district and stretched North into portions of Oswego and west into Cayuga and Wayne County. The special master decided to excise the northern and western portion of the district while keeping Onondaga and a tiny portion of the village of Cleveland in Oswego County. It now spans East also encompassing Madison and Oneida County. The Special Master also renamed the district #NY22 as the old #Ny22 was divided as NY lost a district and upstate grew less than downstate.

The newly drawn #NY22 has a slight Democratic lean at least in enrollment. Democrats make up 36% of the registered voters while Republicans make up 31%. Non-enrolled make up 26% of the district. This type of spread is the hallmark of a competitive district in upstate New York. Onondaga is the controlling county of the district with 63% of the registered voters. Oneida is second with 28% of the district. Madison has just 9% of the district. The 237 voters in the Oswego village of Cleveland barely register in the district.

The old #NY24 was already an emerging Democratic leaning district with the power of incumbency keeping John Katko in place, despite two close elections. In 2012 the Central New York district was drawn as a nearly even district. However, during the ten years of its existence it grew increasingly Democratic. Lost 1,657 voters. The Non-enrolled gained the most with 19,235 more registered voters. Redistricting added to Democratic gains in the district. The redistricting added 11,324 Democrats to the district, nearly doubling the gains since 2012. The district had to gain overall in voters as well, so the GOP gained 4769 voters wiping out the deficit that had been happening. Non-enrolled in redistricting only gained 2,253 voters suggesting a more partisan district than in the past. New York Redistricting and You showed that the old #NY24 was a Biden +11.8 district while the new #NY22 is a Biden +7.6 district. This suggest despite the registration advantage, it is a slightly more conservative district overall.

Onondaga County is not just the most populous of all the counties in #NY22, its Democratic lean is solely responsible for the tilt of the district. The GOP losses in registration in this county has brought it to third place and Democrats have started winning county wide races as well as Statewide and congressional candidates have been carrying the county regularly. Oneida in second place has a definitive GOP lean though Democrats are in a solid second place there due to the city of Utica. Madison County is easily the most conservative portion of the district with the GOP solidly in first place and the non-enrolled threatening to overtake the Democrats. The tiny portion of Oswego is like most parts of Oswego, decidedly Republican.

It is hard to truly determine how this new district performs in relation to former races. However, in an attempt to do so I have taken the county wide results for 2020 Presidential, 2018 & 2020 congressional races, and the 2018 Gubernatorial race in an attempt to see how this district might perform. #NY22 & #ny24 had competitive congressional races even with different candidates so I merged the votes of DEM and GOP candidates together over the three big counties, Onondaga, Oneida, and Madison. Sorry village of Cleveland, I am afraid you are along for the ride.

The results of these four races show a truly competitive district. Joe Biden on these three counties by 7.42 points in 2020. However, the GOP candidate for Governor, Marc Molinaro, won the combined counties by 4.15 points. The Democratic and GOP candidates for Congress in 2018 and 2020 were the same as Anthony Brindisi faced off against Claudia Tenney in #NY22 in the counties of Madison and Oneida, and Dana Balter faced John Katko in Onondaga. Ironically 2018 was a better year for both Democrats despite lower turnout. Democrats won the district as a whole in 2018 by 1.82 points. Higher turnout though, despite Bidens win in 2020, brought a better result for the GOP as they then won the new #NY22 by 2.42 points. Some of that over performance is the WFP line was split in Onondaga among a third-party candidate. It is possible if that candidate did not split off votes, specially in Onondaga County, Democrats would have had a similar performance from 2018.

If we dive deeper into the results by county, we truly see the division of this district. Onondaga County was the best performing county in the district with strong Democratic advantages in three of the four competing races and once again likely would have prevailed in the congressional race of 2020 if not for the split on the WFP line. Oneida though, despite relatively close Democratic enrollment, shows a decided GOP performance in the Presidential and Governor races. However, Brindisi was able to win in Oneida in 2018 and kept it close in 2020. Madison on the other hand Democrats have not been so lucky. Losing this county in all four races though again in 2018, the last mid term year, the Democrats were decidedly close in the race.

Next week I will start my review of the August 23rd primary. Over the next four weeks we will look at Early Voting, Absentee Voting, Election Day, and overall turnout. Then as October comes, I will look at the final five races for the General Election, the 5th Judicial district, #SD48 & #SD50 and the towns of Manlius and Onondaga. Remember to subscribe to to get all election news and content updates.

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