The Weekly Wonk: The Town of Spafford

Welcome back to the #WeeklyWonk. Each weekend I release an article on a subject relating to elections in Onondaga County and New York State. Often these articles will have detailed stats to consume but sometimes they will be a recap of a prominent issue or on relevant election law. I am turning my eye to the 2023 elections. This week I take a break from looking at the political subdivisions and focus on a work item from the Onondaga County Board of elections. Today I look at the Town of Spafford, a surprisingly competitive small town.

The Town of Spafford sits in the southwestern portion of the County.  The Town of Spafford is the smallest town in terms of active voters in Onondaga County.  On its face the town of Spafford is a solidly GOP town.  The makeup of Spafford is 28% Democrat (370 Voters), 42% GOP (550 Voters), and 24% non-Enrolled (309 voters).  While a solid GOP enrollment the Democrats have remained in 2nd place and not been overtaken by the non-enrolled.  Because it is a small town it only has two election districts, a northern district ED 1, and Southern district ED 2. The northern ED slightly outnumbers the southern ED 698 voters to 613.

In a new feature I am bringing to the #weeklywonk this year I am doing a heat map for each political subdivision.  I will be looking at the current partisan makeup of each individual ED and heat mapping its partisan lean based on the advantage for the Democrats and GOP.  The town of Spafford has some partisan stratification between its eds but still solid GOP permeation overall.  We can see in this heat map both election Districts are solid GOP districts.  The northern district ED 1 is slightly better than the southern district ED 2.  The GOP has a partisan advantage of 10.03% in ED 1, and 17.94% in ED 2. 

Since 2009 The Town of Spafford has followed the county as a whole, where Democrats have made gains, but only in a steady slow way.  Since 2009 the Democrats have gained 31 Democratic voters.  The GOP on the other hand during that time frame has lost 78 voters. The Non-enrolled has been the biggest gainer, garnering 63 more voters.   Democrats are slowly gaining on the GOP in this town and, but it looks more like the GOP is losing voters that are equally split between new Democratic voters and new non-enrolled voters. 

The regions in Spafford are just the two Election Districts since it is so small.  Not only is it small there is no real political subdivision in the town besides the election districts.  They are wholly inside the 6th County Legislative district and there is no village inside its borders.  As we noted in the heat map, the Northern district, ED 1 is the slightly less GOP heavy than the southern ED 2.  Both Eds though show that Democrats, while trailing significantly to the GOP, are in 2nd place and not overtaken by the Eds.  This is usually means they can partner with the non-enrolled voters in their town to form winning coalitions at times.

Looking at the growth of voters since the last redistricting cycle, 2012, we see that the regions grew at about the same rate.  The Northern District, the population leader in 2012 and now, gained 49 voters.  The southern district ED 2 gained 41 voters since 2012.  The northern district is smaller in size and growing at a faster rate as well as having more voters to begin with.  The southern district is growing but at a slower rate and is larger geographically being more agrarian than suburb.

The southwest of Onondaga County has always been a haven for GOP population, however there is some trending towards Democrats.  Democrats improved on their partisan gap in Spafford by 8.55% since 2012.  However, that growth is solely in the northern district ed 1.  Ed 1 as it added voters and became more suburban like Democrats improved on their partisan gap by 16.94%.  The southern district though saw a regression as the GOP improved on it’s partisan gap by almost 1%.  This tract national trends on suburban gains by Democrats and rural gains for the GOP.

When we look at the comparative races, we see a Town that swings how it votes based on the election.  Spafford is solidly more conservative than the rest of Onondaga County but less conservative than their voter registration gaps might indicate.  In 2022 the Town of Safford voted for Governor Hochul’s opponent Lee Zeldin by 52.33%, Hochul dis 6.33% wors than her win in Onondaga County rate of 53.78%. In 2021 the Town of Spafford voted for Anthony Brindisis’ GOP opponent for Supreme Court by 51.59%, Brindisi was off by 4.28% of the county result rate of 52.50%.  In 2020 Spafford surprisingly voted for President Biden 51.92%, though 6.96% points behind his Onondaga County win of 58.88%.  In 2019 Spafford had its most decisive GOP vote of the comparative races voting for Lisa Dell by 64.82%, with Democrat Mark Kolinski losing 12.55% ahead of the Onondaga County rate of 47.73%.  As I stated before Democrats have actually had success in Town government.  In the last competitive head to head race Jody Fisher (D) won the Highway superintendent race by 50.53% in 2019 and ran unopposed in 2021.  In 2021 Democrats came within a couple percentage points of sweeping both Town Board races.

In 2023 the Spafford Town Democrats are currently passing petitions for Supervisor, Highway Superintendent, 2 Town Board members, and Tax Collector.  You can get involved with the Manlius Town Democrats by contacting David Hempson, the Town Chair at

That is, it for this week’s edition of the #WeeklyWonk.  Next week I will dive into the Town of Salina, where Democrats despite large voter registration advantages, have been swept out of town office. As always go to and subscribe to get all your content and election news updates.  I run that website, along with these series of articles, as part of my voter education.  I never take ad money or charge subscriptions paying for the site with my own personal funds.  Subscribe here.

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