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Oswego County Republicans help state and national Democrats win big

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Oswego County Republicans help state and national Democrats win big
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Experts say voting habits in Central New York are slowly changing. A big example lies in Republican-dominated Oswego County. During important elections on the state and federal level, voters are not sticking to their party. Our Candace Hopkins shows us why Democrats did so well in Oswego County Tuesday.

OSWEGO, N.Y. -- Oswego County is hardly politically diverse. There are 32,000 registered Republicans and only 17,000 Democrats. In the county legislature, 20 of the 25 seats are held by Republicans. But when it comes to the big races, voters are not following party lines.

"So you have this odd divide between Republicans who tend to win state legislative almost all the time, tend to win almost all local government offices, except in larger cities like the City of Oswego, but tend not to not do so well in state-wide and national elections," said SUNY Oswego Political Science Professor Bruce Altschuler.

Tuesday night, President Obama, Dan Maffei and Kirsten Gillibrand all won in Oswego County. But why?

"They don't expect local government to come up with big money to have solutions to the economic problems, local government deals with property taxes and that's something that's a very big worry in this area and so because of that, they like the idea of conservative small government at locally, they're not as thrilled with that idea on the national and state level," said Altschuler.

Another reason? Democrats are spending more time here. They've stopped automatically writing this area off each election as a loss. And local Republicans say some followers are now favoring perceived effectiveness over party allegiance.

"I think folks are able to look at it and see a personality, see somebody they identify with and they pick that person, whether that be the president or all the way down to the minor race for County Clerk," said Oswego County Republican Committee Chairperson and County Clerk-elect Michael Backus.

Experts say it could be time for a change for the party.

"The Republicans need to find an appropriate spot, it appeals to conservatives without seeming overly extreme."

This trend has been years in the making. President Obama also won Oswego County in 2008.

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