Nassau County is Not an Obama Love-fest

I have heard it suggested, in our own backyard and countless times on Twitter, that Obama had a homefield advantage because the debate was in New York. Thus, he got softball questions. Please set conspiracy theories to rest. The debate was not just in New York. It was in Nassau County, New York. The accent so many were giggling at? That is a Nassau County accent. Not the accent of someone from, say, 100 miles from the debate site in Rhinebeck, NY.

I consider myself lucky to have been born and raised among pedicured and the privileged (and yes, the less privileged too!) of Nassau County, Long Island and to retain traces of the accent. But let me tell you what Nassau County is not. Solid blue. Or even blue at all.

Nassau’s local governance has long been dominated by Republicans, with intermittent Democratic takeovers due to corruption and financial mismanagement scandals. This Politico article suggests that it is perhaps in Nassau County’s economic self-interest to vote for Romney because it is wealthy. Then it goes on to say:

Nassau County has a long Republican heritage. It was once known as the most Republican county in the nation and in 1980 propelled a local town supervisor named Alfonse D’Amato to the Senate. President Richard Nixon spoke to the county GOP’s dinner in 1972.

But today the county’s registered Democrats outnumber Republicans and control two of the county’s three congressional districts. In 2008 Obama won 53.8 percent of the Nassau vote. John McCain won 45.4 percent.

There is no doubt that Nassau County is not the Republican golf-n-plaid pants bastion it was when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. But these statistics are misleading. First of all, in 2008 nationally Obama won 52.9% and McCain won 45.7%, so Nassau was barely bluer than the nation as a whole. (By contrast, my current county, Montgomery County, MD — a truly blue county — went for Obama over McCain 75.1 % to 27.1%). Secondly, in Nassau County there are 351,554 Democrats to 326,624 Republicans. A 7% difference. Noteworthy, but not enormous, especially considering 230,481 voters are listed as blank or independent, and there are 9730 Conservatives to 3132 Workers and Greens. (Again, in my current truly blue county, there are 328,513 Democrats to 122,604 Republicans.) Thirdly, Republicans still totally dominate local government.

Nassau County may not be representative of the country as a whole, ethnically or economically. It may happen to be in a state that is solid blue. But it, itself, is not blue country. No advantage Obama.

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16 thoughts on “Nassau County is Not an Obama Love-fest

  1. I was also raised in Nassau County. So were my mom, uncle, and brother.

    My mom’s childhood on Nassau County it was certainly a bastion of the Republican Party. This was during the post-War years. She told me that her parents felt very isolated because they were staunch Democrats in a sea of Republicans. They disliked when Salisbury Park was rennamed Eisenhower Park.

    The Nassau County of my youth seemed a bit more Democratic. Though this could be because I grew up in Gary Ackerman’s district and my hometown bordered Queens (ten points if you can guess my hometown) Come to think of it, I went to high school with a girl whose last name was Woodhouse and her house was two minutes down the road. I think she had a largeish number of siblings but could be wrong.

    I think that in terms of local and state politics, Nassau County is still very Republican. However in terms of national elections, they now go more Democratic.

    The only Republican Congressperson from Queens is the rather horrible Pete King. According to Wikipedia, King’s District is the only one in Nassau County to vote for Bush in 2004 and McCain in 2008 by a majority. Previously they were: Clinton, Clinton, Gore.

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    • The only Republican Congressperson from Queens is the rather horrible Pete King. According to Wikipedia, King’s District is the only one in Nassau County to vote for Bush in 2004 and McCain in 2008 by a majority. Previously they were: Clinton, Clinton, Gore.

      That’s interesting. A congressional district in New York becoming more Republican?

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          • Well then,

            Hello neighbor and my I also guess fellow Member of the Tribe? Or are you on the Italian-Irish side of Gold Coast living.

            My parents used to send me to science camp at the Science Preserve in Sands Point/Port Washington. I had a few classmates in grad school from Port Washington and various doctors along Northern Blvd in the Manhasset/Port Washington border lands.

            Oh Long Island, how I kind of miss you. Though I miss the Northeast in general. I miss how old everything is there and seeing the old colonial architecture in autumn and winter.

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            • I’m an MOT, married to an Italian.

              I didn’t even know there was a science camp at Sands Point preserve! We go there all the time for hiking, and pretending with my son that we live in a castle. I thought there was something at the science museum on the bay between Manhasset and PW.

              My docs were in Great Neck! And that’s where my grandparents and 100,000 cousins lived.

              >Oh Long Island, how I kind of miss you.

              This sums up my feelings EXACTLY.

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  2. Not that I mind an advantage to Obama but here is the data from wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York%27s_2nd_congressional_district

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York%27s_3rd_congressional_district

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York%27s_4th_congressional_district

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York%27s_5th_congressional_district

    Obama won the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Districts by 56, 58, and 63 percentage points. McCain won the 3rd Congressional District with 52 percent of the vote.

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      • Yeah, the Fifth is at least half in Queens which gives it a unique flavor. It contains some the wealthiest suburbs on Long Island with much more modest sections of Queens. Though Little Neck is indistinguishable from the North Shore in parts.

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  3. Montgomery County, MD — a truly blue county — went for Obama over McCain 75.1 % to 27.1%

    102.2% of the population of Montgomery County, MD voted in 2008? And it went for Obama? Clear evidence of voter fraud!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. Good post, except for the math. Also, my girlfriend says Suffolk County is better (she spent most of her life in and around Islip).

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      • I wouldn’t be surprised it the number was indeed 102%. Given the history of voter fraud in Maryland, and the various shenanigans, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t higher. And yes Mont. County is BLUER than blue. Lots of snarky comments describe it as “the people’s republic of mont. county” even by those on the left. And god, don’t get me started on the residents of Takoma Park!

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