Ever wonder why Rome seems to lean more toward the Republican party while Utica tends to be more Democratic?
That’s what it all comes down to, at least that’s what Utica-based pollster John Zogby believes.
That, and the makeup of the city.
“A lot of it is tradition,” he said. “Rome has always been a Republican city. … (Utica) was always a Democratic town and maintained that registration as a Democratic town even though there was a repudiation of the local Democratic party until it found its footing. Why does Utica stay Democratic? It has an increasing number of African-American and Latino voters and immigrants generally side with the Democratic party.”
In Utica there are 14,244 registered Democrats compared to the 6,196 registered Republicans. Nearly 5,000 of the residents are registered blank, though, according to the Oneida County Board of Elections.
Compare those numbers to Rome, and while there is less of a gap between parties, there are more registered Republicans, with 6,075 in the party and 5,197 registered as Democrats. There are 2,991 registered as blank.
When looking at Oneida County, the split is closer: There are 48,147 residents registered as Republican and 43,172 as Democrat, with 23,197 left blank.
The big question, though, is whether those political parties matter as much on a local level as they do on a state and federal level?
Political parties offer a structure for those who wish to run for office because unless a person has lots of time on their hands to knock on every door or is incredibly wealthy, the party gives candidates the support they need to get things rolling, Zogby said.
Theoretically, those parties are the infrastructure for the state and federal levels of government, which means if someone wants to seek the nomination for president, they then know whom to meet with in each state based on their party.
The trend is to get away from the structured parties, though, and lean toward individual candidates, Zogby said.
“The parties are not as consequential as they were before,” he said. “There are a lot of independent routes to seek office, there are a lot of independent voters who will vote for the candidate for the issue or the message and are not reliant on what the party tells them to do. Finally, there’s a growing disconnect between the local parties and state and national candidates.”
Rome Councilman Riccardo Dursi, who also is a social studies teacher, said where parties matter the most is in the philosophies and ideas that form how he views something.
The Republican councilman he may have a different view on something based on how he feels as a Republican as opposed to how a Democrat may feel.
“That’s just in the back of my head,” he said. “I think it’s honestly good we have a Democrat, because we need those voices.”
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