Sunday, March 10, 2024

Essex & Saratoga Counties Have Picked The Winner In The Last 7 Presidential Elections

2024 is a Presidential election year. It’s worth noting that we’re seeing something highly unusual in American life in the Adirondack Park and North Country. Two of our counties, Saratoga and Essex, are among a handful of counties of more than 3,100 counties across the United States to have voted for the winner in each of the last seven Presidential elections from 1996 to 2020. Given this winning streak, we may not want to fixate as much on national polls, election models, or different theories of election or voter or demographic trends, but perhaps we should just watch what happens in Essex County and Saratoga County. This string of picking winners is uncanny in modern American life, dominated today by intense political partisanship and geographic sorting of people into landscapes and communities with broadly consistent “red” or “blue” politics.

Across the dozen Adirondack Park and North Country counties in the last seven Presidential elections, 1996-2020, Hamilton County voted Republican in every election, while Clinton County voted for the Democrat each time. Other counties toggled back and forth between the two parties over the election cycles, like Franklin, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties, and others were periodically swept up in wave elections to break partisan leans, like Fulton, Herkimer, Lewis, and Oneida counties, but only Essex and Saratoga counties currently own winning streaks that started with the 1996 Presidential election.

In 2020, Essex County voted for Democrat Joe Biden over Donald Trump 51.6% to 46.6%, 9,950 votes to 8,982. Saratoga County voted for Biden 51.6% to 46.2%, 68,471 votes to 61,305. The 68,000 votes for Biden was the highest vote tally ever for Saratoga County. In 2020, in the North Country, Clinton County also went for Biden, with the other nine counties going for Trump.

In 2016, Essex County voted for Republican Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in a squeaker by less than 200 votes, 46.2% to 45%, 7,958 votes to 7,762. Saratoga County voted for Trump 47.8% to 44.6%, 54,575 votes to 50,913. In 2020, Trump won most other North Country counties, including Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington. In 2016, Clinton County was the only other North Country county that went for Clinton.

In 2012, Essex County voted heartily to re-elect Democrat Barack Obama with his victory over Mitt Romney, with more than 3,000 votes in the county, 58.5% to 40%, 9,784 votes to 6,647. This was a race where, clearly, lots of Republicans chose to stay home. Rural voters in 2012 famously dropped off in their numbers by more than 10% below their 2008 levels. Saratoga County voted narrowly to re-elect Obama, 50.2% to 47.8%, 52,957 votes to 50,382. In 2012, Obama had a good year in the North Country, winning Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties.

In 2008, Essex County voted for Democrat Barack Obama over John McCain 55.9% to 42.5%, 10,390 votes to 7,913. Obama’s 10,390 votes remain the high-water mark in recent Presidential vote cycles for Essex County. Saratoga County voted more narrowly for Obama 50.85% to 47.5%, 56,645 votes to 52,855. Obama’s election in 2008 also saw him win five other North Country counties of Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington.

In 2004, Republican George W. Bush won re-election with a win in Essex County over John Kerry 51.7% to 46%, 9,869 votes to 8,768. Saratoga County voted for Bush 52.5% to 45.6%, 56,158 votes to 48,730. Bush also won other North Country counties, including Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, Warren, and Washington.

In 2000, Essex County voted for Republican George W. Bush over Al Gore 49.2% to 44.2%, 8,822 votes to 7,927. Saratoga County voted for Bush 49% to 45.6%, 46,623 votes to 43,359. Bush’s election in 2000 also saw him win other North Country counties of Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, Warren, and Washington. Gore won Clinton, Franklin, and St. Lawrence counties.

In 1996, Democrat Bill Clinton enjoyed a strong performance across New York State and the North Country in his re-election victory over Bob Dole winning Essex County by 46.5% to 37.5%, 7,893 votes to 6,379. Ross Perot picked up 2,363 votes, some 14% of the votes. Saratoga County voted for Clinton 46.5% to 40%, 39,832 votes to 34,337. Ross Perot received over 10,000 votes, nearly 12% of the total. Bill Clinton won every other North Country county except for Hamilton County.

In 1992, Essex County and Saratoga County both voted for the losing candidate, Republican George H.W. Bush in his failed re-election bid. Essex County went for George H.W. Bush in his loss for re-election to Bill Clinton, 43.6% to 35.4%, 8,278 votes to 6,717. Ross Perot garnered 3,784 votes, some 20% of the total vote. Saratoga County voted for Bush 41.1% to 36.8%, 36,917 votes to 33,011. Ross Perot received over 19,000 votes, over 20% of the total. In the North Country in 1992, Bill Clinton also won Clinton and St. Lawrence counties.

Runner-up status in Presidential election winning streaks go to Warren and Washington counties, which had voted for the winner in six straight elections, 1996 to 2016, but who saw their streaks snapped by going for Trump over Biden in 2020.

The shifting voting preferences among about half of the Adirondack Park and North Country counties is unusual at this point in American life. As most counties across the country have hardened into red or blue monoliths, election after election, this flux demonstrates a level of community dynamism. Come Election Day night on November 5th, perhaps rather than being glued to MSNBC or FOX News, we should keep refreshing the Board of Elections webpages at Essex County and Saratoga County to find out who won.

Photo at top: 2020 New York State Presidential Election by county. Photo provided by author.

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Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. He was the co-founder of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) in 1998, which has collected long-term water quality data on more than 75 Adirondack lakes and ponds. He has testified before the State Legislature, successfully advocated to pass legislation and budget items, authored numerous articles, op-eds, and reports such as "20% in 2023: An Assessment of the New York State 30 by 30 Act" (2023), "The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010" (2019), "The Myth of Quiet, Motor-free Waters in the Adirondack Park" (2013), and "Rutted and Ruined: ATV Damage on the Adirondack Forest Preserve" (2003) and "Growth in the Adirondack Park: Analysis of Rates and Patterns of Development" (2001). He also worked at Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife, has two grown children out in the world, and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks, and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fire department.Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Threads.

29 Responses

  1. Bill Kitchen says:

    A good reminder that the Adirondacks isn’t a lock for Republican candidates. Before Stefanik, Bill Owens, a Democrat represented the North Country. Now that Stefanik has gone full Trump (even calling January 6 rioters hostages 🤦🏻‍♂️), we really need another strong Democrat to run against her.

    • Rob says:

      Yeah let’s vote another Democrat into office so we can keep the border open for people to cross so us taxpayers can pay billions in our state budget to feed, clothe, shelter, and oh yeah let’s not forget pay for their cell phones. Still trying to figure out why taxpayers need to pay for them. Oh yeah and let’s elect a democrat so they can fly another 320,000 illegal immigrants into the country. Unfortunately the candidate for the Republican Party is just as terrible. I’ll be voting Republican across the board except for the choice of president. That will be left blank. Both choices are terrible.

      • Linda says:

        Sorry but where are you getting this? “Oh yeah and let’s elect a democrat so they can fly another 320,000 illegal immigrants into the country.”

        In fact the Dems are responsible for a thriving economy, legislation to cap insulin prices, help vets, rebuild infrastructure etc. ( Which Elise Stefanik voted against.)

        It’s too bad that many people fleeing poverty or violence or both are the target of so much resentment. There but for the grace of god…

        • Rob says:

          I understand people fleeing war torn countries. I don’t resent them for that. I resent having to pay for them. why do you, and I have to pay to support these people?? Our governor has proposed BILLIONS in the state budget to fund them. Over $500 million for housing. As far as flying 320,000 immigrants into the country. That is from an official with the CBP. Our state senators will not confirm or deny according to people I talked to in there office when calling last week. Presidential race is a mess. Both candidates are bad. As a registered democrat I’ll be voting Republican for all except for President. That will be left blank.

        • Rob says:

          I have no issues with an immigrant if they show up at a border check point. And cross legally. If they enter at any place other than a border crossing they are entering illegally. They should not be allowed to stay. They should be arrested, processed and deported. Not allowed to stay in this country. May seem harsh but why should someone committing a crime by crossing illegally be allowed to stay?? Why should we have to pay for it??? I got busted for fishing in Canadian waters in 2022. You want to help me pay for all the legal troubles that created???

        • Paul says:

          Almost nobody coming into the country at the southern border has a legitimate asylum claim. This why so many people don’t cross at a real border crossing. Seeking a better life (fleeing poverty) is not grounds for asylum. Simply coming from a violent place (we have places like this in the US – South Chicago for example) isn’t grounds for it either. The violence needs to be specifically target at the individual seeking asylum, and you need to show that this is your only option. If we want to stop illegal immigration (or migration, whatever it’s called now) change the asylum laws.

      • JohnL says:

        I’m sorry Rob, but after writing what you did above, if you can pull a ‘no vote’ for President, then you’ll be re-electing the very thing you’re ranting against. A ‘no vote’ is a cowards way out. Remember the adage….’Perfect is the enemy of good’? Pick the person that you think will do the BEST JOB that fits your beliefs.

      • Tim says:

        Washington Post headline 2/267/24:
        The Economy is Roaring. Immigration is a Key Reason.

  2. louis curth says:

    Throughout much of the Adirondack north country, two party politics have been traditionally been dominated by a well funded Republican Party that held to conservative values of small, efficient government.

    The Democratic Party, usually in the minority, and less well funded, served as a loyal minority that worked with Republicans to include people-focused compromises that made bipartisan cooperation possible and led to more practical outcomes for all.

    In the past, young people were taught in school about government and their responsibilities to make democracy work through informed voting. The role of the news media – local, regional, national – and fact based opinion punditry also helped inform us and shape our opinions and our voting choices.

    Sadly, our entire system of governance now seems to be unraveling into democracy for sale! The endless lies and conspiracies, amplified on social media, and fertilized by fortunes of dark money, are corrupting too many political leaders and threatening the very future of our democracy.

    So where do we, who say we love this land, choose to go from here?

  3. Terry says:

    Louis Curth is 100% correct! Research what is true, and follow through with your vote for truth and democracy.
    Our children and grandchildren depend on us to do this!

  4. COL (R) Mark Warnecke says:

    Louis, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve said ad nauseum that there are two things I wish I could do for this country to preserve the Republic and the Constitution.

    First, term limits for all federal and state offices. Eliminate career politicians one and all. Get back to service in office as a duty and privilege, not the right of a self-sustaining political ruling class. Elected officials who represent the people and understand that they work for the people.

    Second campaign finance reform. Eliminate the super pacs. Limit corporate donations and private citizen donations. Prohibit donations from outside a state or district by anyone who doesn’t live there or operate a business there. It should be up to the people of congressional district or state in which an office is located who gets it, not rich influence peddlers who seek to buy elected positions for whom they choose.

    One can dream, can’t one?

    • Todd Eastman says:

      Good points, but in the absence of long-serving politicians, the need for technical expertise provided by staff and agencies would become even more important. This would result in tremendous power resting in the much maligned “administrative state.” Long-serving politicians often have essential skills and knowledge that benefit society; not all are rotters.

      Getting rid of the ghastly flood of money is essential!!!

    • Alan R. says:

      Increase politician pay across the board. Less hate please towards those whom elect to serve. With working for any Fortune 400 so much more attractive (Pay, benefits and perhaps 1% as much public scrutiny) we’re only getting those office holders seeking to line their pockets.

  5. Mike says:

    NYC determines who wins NYS not upstate counties.

    • COL (R) Mark Warnecke says:

      Ergo the wisdom of the electoral college system. Think of the possibilities if we had a similar system in NY. Instead of 5 or 6 counties deciding the outcome of every gubernatorial election, all counties would be heard. If we didn’t have it for Presidential elections, 4 or 5 of our largest urban areas would decide all Presidents..

    • JohnL says:

      You said it Mike. We (upstate) are nothing more than a spectator to most decisions made in this state.

  6. Linda says:

    Since 15% + ? of North Country residents are likely benefiting from Medicare and social security, might be good to spread the word that Trump is considering cuts.
    Reduction in medicare benefits alone could be catastrophic for many:

    • JohnL says:

      Trump’s not going to cut medicare or SS benefits to people that are entitled to it. But hey, if you want to believe CNN spin and vote for the man that’s raised inflation by 3 times the ave rate of 45, and who’s let 8-10 million illegal aliens into our country by rescinding all of 45’s EO’s that were very successful in keeping illegals out, and who can’t put a sentence together without a teleprompter, then hey, go for it.
      By the way, did I mention that Trump’s not going to cut medicare or SS benefits to people that are entitled to it.

    • Paul says:

      I don’t think he is describing cutting benefits. But people only read headlines so it doesn’t matter. Also, the congress would not support cutting benefits. It’s not a issue. You have to move to France if you want to see real changes to programs like this.

      • Linda says:

        Great! Better yet, let’s ask Elise Stefanik to commit to that And that if Trump as POTUS tried to raise retirement age she would vigorously oppose it.
        But I am happy you are so confident that Congress would not support cutting benefits.

        • Paul says:

          I thought your concern was with cutting benefits? If you raise the retirement age (only on those that have not entered the system yet) that would be a good change. The “retirement” age isn’t even a thing anymore. Most people don’t retire that young. This was set up when the world was a different place. But that is just my personal opinion. Nobody (neither Trump or Biden) is talking about doing that either as far as I have heard. If president Biden is reelected to a second term he will have been collecting SS for almost 20 years at the end of that term. And he might not even retire then!

          • JohnL says:

            Agree on raising the retirement age, Paul, as that would not affect anyone that has already retired and is getting benefits. Your last sentence plays into my comment (with examples) halfway up this discussion about our ‘long serving politicians’ and their ‘essential skills’.

  7. louis curth says:

    So it’s official now, our two main political parties have chosen the candidates that most of us dreamed would just go away and let some younger folks with some fresh ideas get in the race to try to end the hate filled rhetoric and bring us together again as one nation indivisible.

    27 Almanack comments later, the responses to Peter Bauer’s essay seem to show little change in our pre-conditioned opinions, except for a couple of wishful nuggets from Col. Warnecke on campaign finance reform, and term limits, and Alan’s fairy tale hope of achieving real one man one vote, at a time when both parties are gerrymandering to the extreme, and back-pedaling urgent voting rights and immigration legislation just to gain partisan political advantage.

    At the same time, The world’s conflict zones continue to worsen, starving children die, climate problems increase, and the long ignored threat of nuclear war worsens again. Beyond our borders, people in rest of the world wait uneasily, while America, the “shining city on a hill” makes up its mind who we will choose to lead us – for better or for worse.

    So where do we go from here? Whatever choice we make will have consequences. The future of democracy, and perhaps much more, may be at stake. FACT based voting matters…

  8. Mr. Wonder Why says:

    Ask LAKEN RILEYS family if they think unvetted illegals should storm the Border.Why does are current Gov. think she can spend taxpayers $ on illegals whom are also criminals, terrorists,drug cartels,murderers and a financial burden.Why does Gov/Dems attack upstate NYorkers 2nd amendment rights.Why do illegals get free medical when my premiums/co-pays are 8,500$ out of pocket a year.Why are politicians able to stay in power for 50 years? Why are taxpayers supporting foreign countries? Why are foreign born American haters in our Congress?Why are men in women’s sports?Why aren’t we building factories/low income housing in the Adirondacks to support our new comers?Why do we depend on China for daily products,EV batteries,meds?Ask yourself why do we need politicians making our every decision but we have no say in it?

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