How, when Oswego County voted for president

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., raise their arms up as fireworks go off in the background during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. Looking on are Jill Biden, far left, and Harris' husband Doug Emhoff, far right.

Trump/Pence win big again in Oswego County as local officials optimistic, wary of a Biden presidency

OSWEGO — The United States will have a new president in January and local officials are expressing cautious optimism about the incoming administration but say they’re still wary of the many challenges facing Oswego County.

The Republican ticket of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence has now easily won Oswego County in consecutive elections: in 2016, Trump/Pence received 26,688 votes (57.03 percent) to former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 17,095 (35.21 percent). This year, the GOP duo received 28,914 (64.76 percent) to Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ 14,677 (32.87 percent.)

There’s one huge missing piece from the numbers above: mail-in votes.

New York law prohibits the opening of mail-in (also known as absentee) ballots until seven days after the election, meaning the results posted to date by the Oswego County Board of Elections (source of all numbers in this story, along with the New York State Board of Elections) consists of only the people who cast a ballot during in-person early voting, or in person on Tuesday, Nov. 3. The 2016 vote counts for Trump vs. Clinton above include all votes, not just Election Day. To put it another way: all votes, day-of and mail-in, for Trump in 2016 is 2,226 fewer votes than Trump received in 2020 through early voting and on Election Day. Turnout in Oswego County, like the rest of the nation, was high and this was the first year of early voting for a presidential election in New York.

Another quirk of the 2020 election results is the nationwide trend of mail-in votes leaning heavily in favor of Biden. Conventional wisdom points to mail ballots breaking as the electorate but like so many aspects of the Trump presidency, conventional wisdom seems to be out the window as Biden used the strength of mail voters to pull ahead in Pennsylvania and Georgia. Some of that can reasonably be considered Trump’s own doing; for months, the president derided mail-in voting and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the process. To put a very fine point on it: There so far has been no evidence of any institutional or wide-reaching malfeasance in voting either by machine or by mail, nor have Trump or his legal team cited any examples in court (despite being given multiple explicit opportunities) that would validate a massive dismissal of the choice for president of 75,000,000 Americans.

One other notable Oswego County data point when comparing 2016 and 2020 presidential results stands out for its absence: third-party candidates.

In 2016, third-party candidates and write-in votes tallied 3,005, or 6.19 percent of total votes cast. In 2020, third-party and write-in votes produced just 1,054, or 2.3 percent. With mail votes yet to be counted, that ratio is likely to fall even further.  Election officials will begin to open and count mail ballots this week around New York, but results will likely take several days. All results reported by election boards so far are unofficial, and will stay that way until the Nov. 28 deadline has passed for local boards to certify and transmit their results to the state board in Albany.

The Palladium-Times reached out over the weekend to community and civic leaders to get their reaction to the quadrennial decision, which drew more votes than any election in the nation’s history. This story will be updated.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, Pulaski

“It appears as though Vice President Joe Biden has won the election. While I didn’t support him during the election, I wish him well and hope he can appropriately address the many major issues facing our country.”

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow

“I firmly believe regardless of who or what political party they’re in or what candidate you may or may not have supported, you support the President of the United States and even more so during uncertain times such as these. I wish President-elect Biden the best as he begins his transition to the presidency.”

Jonathan Ashline, chair, Oswego City Democratic Committee

"Democracy is not a noun but a verb. Every four years, our country gets another chance to course correct in order to achieve a more perfect union. I firmly believe the country made a necessary course correction on Tuesday. This election was a repudiation of President Trump's rhetoric and behavior. President-elect Joe Biden is by all optics a decent man. Kamala Harris, a decent woman. I have enormous respect for them both and the utmost confidence in their ability to lead and restore American ideals at home and around the world."

Oswego city attorney, lifelong Republican Kevin Caraccioli

“The record turnout and most votes cast for President are both positive takeaways from this year’s election, which bodes well for our country’s future; people care. Change is not to be feared.  To all who supported Trump I say stop!  There’s no deep state conspiracy at work; no fraud, or stolen election.  This was a close election and every vote matters, that’s why we have to count them all.  With 145 million votes cast, it takes time to tally them up.  That is the biggest thing that is unusual this time around. My advice to President-elect Biden: lead with your head, govern from your heart and stay off Twitter!”

Fmr. Navy Officer and NY-24 candidate Roger Misso, Red Creek

“I have always believed what Anne Frank wrote in her Diary - that, “in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart.” Some of my most rewarding moments on the campaign trail were deep conversations with the most ardent Trump supporters; these were reminders that we are not proxies of parties or political candidates but real people with actual hopes and legitimate fears. Trump did much to damage our republic, but these conversations and our shared humanity remains. We cannot afford to take them for granted again. I’m reminded of the last line Anne Frank ever wrote: “What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.”

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