Is past prologue?  A look at results and turnout in recent presidential election years in Erie County

Since the 2024 presidential election is likely to be a re-run of the Biden/Trump election in 2020, it might be helpful for political aficionados to take a look back at what happened that year.  Spoiler alert:  Biden won handily in Erie County and in New York State.  Turnout was pretty good.

Nationally, of course, the presidential election in 2020 was hotly contested.  Election officials, including Republicans, pretty much everywhere agreed that the elections were free and fair and that Joe Biden’s winning margins, particularly in battleground states, were accurate.

Presidential elections usually produce the largest voter turnouts in the four-year election cycles.  In a county like Erie in a state like New York, where enrollment numbers favor Democrats, those healthy turnouts also assist other party candidates in congressional, state, and local elections.

The local election rosters are filled out.  The only Western New York legislative seats that may draw a primary are in NY26 and the 147th Assembly district.  Essentially the November ballot positions are set.  In most every case the enrollment numbers in the local congressional and state legislative districts lean strongly toward one party or the other.

Here are the highlights of the elections in Erie County in 2020:

Turnout was high.  A total of 476,913 votes were cast in Erie County.                                  

Joe Biden easily won the county, defeating Donald Trump 267,270 (56 percent) to 197,552 (41 percent).  Biden won the City of Buffalo by a 4-to-1 margin.  He also carried the City of Lackawanna, Amherst, Aurora, Cheektowaga and the Town of Tonawanda.  Biden’s vote total in the county was nearly 52,000 higher than Hillary Clinton’s numbers in 2016.  Trump only increased his number of votes by a little over 9,000 votes compared to 2016.

Brian Higgins easily won the election in NY26 while Chris Jacobs did likewise in NY27.

In the state legislative districts the results followed the voter registration pattern in the districts.  The Democrats and Republicans each won two of the Senate districts based in Erie County.  In the Assembly races Democrats won six of the nine districts located in whole or part in Erie County.

Here are the highlights of the elections in Erie County in 2016:

Turnout was high.  431,537 votes were cast.                                  

Clinton won the county, defeating Donald Trump 215,456 (50 percent) to 188,303 (44 percent).  She won in the City of Buffalo by a 4-to-1 margin while also carrying Lackawanna, Amherst, and Tonawanda.

Brian Higgins easily won in NY26 with Chris Collins also winning by a comfortable margin.

In the state legislative districts Republicans won three of the four Senate seats and five of the nine Erie County based districts.

The high turnouts in the presidential years dwarf the other years of the election cycle.  In 2023, when the primary office on the ballot was county executive, there were 204,883 votes cast.  In 2022, a gubernatorial election year, turnout was 346,087.  In 2021, when most of the attention was on the race for mayor of Buffalo, countywide turnout was just 237,182.

As the TV ads for personal injury attorneys say, “prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.” Nonetheless, history does provide a basis for analyzing such things as turnout and where each party sees its best voting opportunities.  It is going to be a long and difficult political year.

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The post Is past prologue?  A look at results and turnout in recent presidential election years in Erie County appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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