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Top Stories 2020: Far fewer Riverhead votes for Trump in 2020

Across America and Long Island, the November elections brought historic numbers of voters to the polls. Record numbers voted by mail-in ballots, locally and across the country.

While the incumbent, President Donald Trump, lost the election nationally by an estimated 8 million votes, he won Suffolk County by just a few hundred votes, a sizable drop from his numbers in 2016. Mr. Trump ran strong in a number of hamlets in Riverhead Town, but came up short in Southold. 

And while 1st District Congressman Lee Zeldin won his bid for reelection, he did not carry Southold Town, which in recent cycles has turned bluer. In fact, the November results showed once again that Southold, once a reliable GOP stronghold, is not so much anymore.

The reason for that could have profound local impact for the future. The demographics of the town have changed, with large numbers of former city dwellers moving here; the Democrats have offered a strong slate of candidates; and, perhaps, general disgust with the GOP brand has carried over from the national to the local scene.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers: former vice president Joe Biden won Southold with 53% of the vote. Mr. Trump won 53% of the vote four years ago and carried all but five of the town’s election districts.

The data shows there are now 6,133 active Republican voters in Southold Town to 6,131 Democrats. Four years ago there were 1,637 more registered Republicans in town than Democrats. This shift bodes well for Democrats running for town positions in the future.

In Riverhead, Mr. Trump’s numbers were way down from 2016, but he carried the day in Wading River, Calverton, Baiting Hollow, Aquebogue and Jamesport. Mr. Zeldin was reelected to a third term in Congress with 55% of the vote in the district, even as he lost Southold to Nancy Goroff. Some trends can also be seen in the race for state Assembly. 

In Riverhead, Republican Jodi Giglio won with a strong 56% of the vote; but she lost to Democrat Laura Jens-Smith in Southold. In the past, former assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) had won the district with big numbers. This year he ran instead for the state Senate. Interestingly he won Riverhead by about 2,500 votes, but won Southold by just 42 votes.