Voters in the Capital Region returned a mixed result in this year’s election as Democrat Joe Biden ran strong in urban areas, President Donald Trump performed well in rural areas and a larger-than-usual stock of absentee ballots waited to clarify just how the candidates fared compared to four years ago.
Biden, who handily carried New York’s electoral votes, appeared to grow support over Hilary Clinton’s 2016 performance in the Capital Region’s cities, Schenectady and Albany, while Trump maintained strong leads in the region’s rural counties – Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties.
Saratoga County, a bellwether county that has backed every national presidential winner since 2000, supported Trump with over 51 percent of the Election Day and early vote – compared to the 48 percent plurality he carried the county with in 2018 – after the county reported results for all of its voting district. But the county still had over 20,000 absentee ballots to count starting next week.
Trump’s overall vote haul in Saratoga County, 55,248 votes, narrowly topped his tally from four years ago as support surged for both candidates across the region. Biden registered just shy of 50,000 votes in the county.
Over 30 percent of registered voters in the Capital Region – and about 40 percent in Schenectady County – had cast their ballots in this year’s general election by Monday afternoon, according to state and county voter data. As results still trickled in Tuesday night, voter turnout appeared to match or exceed the 2016 level, and over 80,000 absentee ballots across the region’s seven counties still awaited counting, which starts on Nov. 9.
Voter sentiment varied widely outside of polls on Tuesday, with Trump supporters calling Biden’s mental agility and liberal policies into question, while Biden voters condemned Trump’s leadership style and handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some Trump supporters said Biden was not up to the job.
“He’s pretty senile,” Don Boyle, a Schenectady voter who backed Trump, said of Biden. “He doesn’t know where he is at, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s a problem.”
Many Biden voters similarly rejected Trump’s fitness for the presidency.
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“Trump is the most corrupt human being to ever step inside the Oval Office,” said Darcy DeRocker, a Schenectady voter who supported Biden. “I do not like a dictatorship. I feel that we should have a democracy. I do not like kids in cages. I feel like women should be able to make a decision about what’s done with their bodies.”
For many voters, emotions ran high as they sought to explain how Trump’s presidency has impacted their lives.
“Division and equality is a big thing for me,” said Rosalind Samuria, another Biden voter in Schenectady. “Black lives matter to me – all lives matter to me – and I hope it matters to our president. I want equality for this country, and I’d like to see it move forward.”
The overall outcome of the presidential election was still not fully clear late Tuesday night, but little appeared to change from 2016 in terms of what counties went for what party.
In 2016, Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton won Schenectady and Albany counties, with 50 percent and 60 percent of the vote, respectively, while Trump won Saratoga, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie and Rensselaer counties.
By late Tuesday, Trump maintained larger percentage leads in all fives of those counties compared to 2016, when third party candidates depressed vote share for both major party candidates. Trump also topped his total vote tally in Schoharie and Montgomery counties.
Biden, on the other hand, appeared to be running somewhat stronger in Schenectady and Albany counties than Clinton did in 2016 – if only slightly. Schenectady County was still counting Election Day and early votes at midnight.