BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Regional Institute
has issued a detailed analysis of Western New York's voting
patterns in the 2008 presidential election. Among the key findings
are that the region's most populated areas -- urban and suburban --
voted for Barack Obama, although 85 percent of the region's
municipalities voted for McCain. The region also voted more
Democratic in 2008 compared to 2004, especially rural areas, while
the region's rank of registered Republicans shrank.
The analysis is presented in the institute's latest policy
brief, "Inside the Ballot Box."
"While New York State as a whole was a sure-bet for the
Democratic ticket, and therefore was hardly noticed on election
day, Western New York actually mirrored the voting behaviors of
many swing states and the nation as a whole," said Peter A.
Lombardi, senior research associate at the institute and author of
the brief, adding that about 53 percent of the region voted for
Barack Obama, the same share he received nationwide, compared to 63
In addition to validating presumed patterns, such as
Republican-leaning rural areas and Democratic population centers,
the brief also sheds light on nuances in voting behavior across the
For instance, the region voted significantly more Democratic in
2008 compared to 2004. In more than 80 percent of the region's
communities, Democrats increased their margin of victory, cut into
a Republican victory or overturned a Republican victory from the
previous election. For instance, voters in the City of Batavia gave
George Bush a 747-vote victory in 2004, while Obama won by two
votes in 2008.
The 2008 election also prompted voters to shift party
affiliations, with the region's rolls of independent and minor
party voters growing by 1.4 percent and falling 1.2 percent for
Republicans; the number of registered Democrats grew by 0.2
"These findings likely mirror national trends, including the
surge in first-time young voters, re-engaged older voters and, of
course, a generally bad year for Republicans," Lombardi said.
Although a detailed exit poll was not conducted for Western New
York, the brief assessed demographic voting patterns by
categorizing the region's towns and cities by several
characteristics, including population density, poverty rates,
education level and minority populations. Areas with high poverty
rates, including urban and rural centers, gave Obama 68 percent of
their vote. Notably, areas that saw a population increase were more
likely to vote for McCain, while those that shrank voted for
"Inside the Ballot Box," is part of the institute's policy brief
series, which informs regional issues with timely, reliable data
and analysis. All policy briefs are available online at http://regional-institute.buffalo.edu.
The release of the brief is accompanied by new election data
posted on the institute's Regional Knowledge Network (RKN), an
online clearinghouse of information on the Buffalo Niagara region.
Visitors to the site -- http://rkn.buffalo.edu -- will
find data and maps on 2004 and 2008 election results and voter
registration, turnout and party affiliation.
"The policy brief and Regional Knowledge Network serve as
complementary information resources on the region's voting patterns
and behaviors," said Lombardi, adding that visitors to RKN can
access baseline data to conduct their own analyses or dynamically
map this information.
A major research and public policy center of the University at
Buffalo, the UB Regional Institute plays a vital role in addressing
key policy and governance issues for regions, with focused analysis
of the Buffalo-Niagara region. A unit of the UB Law School, the
institute leverages the resources of the university and binational
community to pursue a wide range of scholarship, projects and
initiatives that frame issues, inform decisions and guide
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.