New York's 21st Congressional District elections, 2012

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New York's 21st Congressional District

General Election Date
November 6, 2012

Primary Date
June 26, 2012

November 6 Election Winner:
Bill Owens Democratic Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Paul Tonko Democratic Party
Paul Tonko.jpg

New York U.S. House Elections
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2012 U.S. Senate Elections

Flag of New York.png
The 21st Congressional District of New York held an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012.

Bill Owens was re-elected on November 6, 2012.[1]

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
April 16, 2012
June 26, 2012
November 6, 2012

Primary: New York has a closed primary system, meaning only registered members of a particular party may vote in that party's primary.

Voter registration: Voters had to register to vote in the primary by June 1, 2012. For the general election, the voter registration deadline was October 12, 2012, or October 26, 2012 in person.[2]

See also: New York elections, 2012

Incumbent: Heading into the election was incumbent Paul Tonko (D), who was first elected to the House in 2008. Due to redistricting, Tonko ran in the redrawn 20th District, and 23rd District incumbent Bill Owens ran in the new 21st.

This was the first election using new district maps based on 2010 Census data. New York's 21st Congressional District is located in the northeastern portion of the state and includes Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Hamilton, Essex, Warren, Washington, and Fulton counties and parts of Saratoga and Herkimer counties.[3]

Fusion voting

New York is one of eight states that have "electoral fusion" -- which allows more than one political party to support a common candidate. This creates a situation where one candidate will appear multiple times on the same ballot, for the same position. Electoral fusion was once widespread across the United States, but is now commonly practiced only in New York.

Opponents of fusion voting argue that the process results in dealmarking to ensure that patronage is rampant.[4] Proponents maintain that fusion voting allows for minor parties to actually make a difference during the election, allowing voters the opportunity to vote for a minority party platform but still affect the general election result.[5]

Candidates appearing in the general election will be listed below with colored dots corresponding to any party they will represent on the ballot.


Note: Election results were added on election night as races were called. Vote totals were added after official election results had been certified. For more information about Ballotpedia's election coverage plan, click here. If you find any errors in this list, please email: Geoff Pallay.

General election candidates

Democratic Party Working Families Party Bill Owens Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Conservative Party Independence Party of America Matt Doheny
Green Party Donald Hassig

June 26, 2012 primary results

Democratic Party Democratic Primary

Republican Party Republican Primary

Note: Tim Stampfler withdrew before the primary[6]

Conservative Party Conservative Primary

Working Families Party Working Families Primary

Independence Party of America Independence candidate

Green Party Green candidate

Election results

General election

U.S. House, New York District 21 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngBill Owens Incumbent 47.1% 126,631
     Republican Matthew Doheny 45.3% 121,646
     Green Donald Hassig 1.6% 4,174
     N/A Blank/Void/Scattering 6.1% 16,290
Total Votes 268,741
Source: New York State Board of Elections "U.S. House of Representatives Results"

Race background

General election

Map of the 21st Congressional District of New York before and after the 2010 redistricting. Click on the link for an interactive map of the congressional districts in New York. For an interactive map of the districts prior to the 2010 Census, click here.

New York's 21st was considered to be Leaning Democratic according to the New York Times race ratings. Democratic incumbent Bill Owens was challenged by Matt Doheny, the Republican candidate he defeated in 2010. The race was thought to be closer this year as there was no third-party conservative candidate to steal votes from Doheny as there was in 2010.[10]

Republican challenger Matt Doheny was included in the National Republican Congressional Committee's Young Guns program. The program highlighted challengers who represented the GOP's best chances to pick up congressional seats in the general election.[11]

Republican primary

Investment fund manager Matt Doheny and recent seminary graduate Kellie Greene battled in the June 26, 2012 Republican primary.[12] The winner will take on Democratic incumbent Bill Owens in the general election.

In 2010, Doheny was just under 2,000 votes short of beating Owens.[13]

Greene, an international business consultant,[14] said local Republican organizations had been dismissive of her campaign. The primary, she said , should not "be the will of the party. It’s supposed to be the will of the people." Several county Republican chairman responded, one saying that Greene had not shown a strong enough campaign, and another saying she did not send the campaign literature he had offered to distribute for her.[15]

On the issues, Doheny and Greene had their disagreements. Greene favored a flat tax, while Doheny said such a tax would be best in theory, in practice he would rather work toward "a flatter, simpler, fairer tax system" with no loopholes.[14] Regarding immigration, Doheny supported expanding H2A guest-worker visa programs, while Greene said "We don't have jobs for our own people."

Due to scheduling difficulties, the two candidates were unable to meet for a debate. Greene blamed the difficulty on Doheny's camp.[16]

Impact of redistricting

See also: Redistricting in New York

Following the results of the 2010 Census, New York lost two congressional seats, bringing its total number of representatives down from 29 to 27. According to a report in the Washington Post political blog "The Fix," New York was one of the top 10 redistricting battles in the nation.[17]

The 21st District was re-drawn after the 2010 Census. The new district is composed of the following percentages of voters of the old congressional districts.[18][19]

Registration statistics

As of October 29, 2012, District 21 had the following partisan registration breakdown according to the New York State Board of Elections:

New York Congressional District 21[20]
Congressional District District Total Democrats Republicans Other & Unaffiliated Advantage Party Advantage Change in Advantage from 2010
District 21 396,310 116,069 174,028 106,213 Republican 49.93% 111.18%
"Party advantage" is the percentage gap between the two major parties in registered voters. "Change in advantage" is the spread in difference of party advantage between 2010 and 2012 based on the congressional district number only.

District partisanship

FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2012 study

See also: FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2012

In 2012, FairVote did a study on partisanship in the congressional districts, giving each a percentage ranking (D/R) based on the new 2012 maps and comparing that to the old 2010 maps. New York's 21st District became more balanced because of redistricting.[21]

  • 2012: 49D / 51R
  • 2010: 49D / 51R

Cook Political Report's PVI

See also: Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index

In 2012, Cook Political Report released its updated figures on the Partisan Voter Index, which measured each congressional district's partisanship relative to the rest of the country. New York's 21st Congressional District had a PVI of R+2, which was the 204 most Democratic district in the country. In 2008, this district was won by Barack Obama (D), 53-47 percent over John McCain (R). In 2004, George W. Bush (R) won the district 53-47 percent over John Kerry (D).[22]

District history

Candidate ballot access
Ballot Access Requirements Final.jpg

Find detailed information on ballot access requirements in all 50 states and Washington D.C.
This is the 21st Congressional District prior to the 2011 redistricting.


On November 2, 2010, Paul Tonko was elected to the United States House. He defeated Theodore J. Danz, Jr. (R who also ran on the Conservative Party ticket).[23]

U.S. House, New York Congressional District 21 General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngPaul Tonko Incumbent 56.9% 124,889
     Republican Theodore J. Danz, Jr. 39.1% 85,752
     Blank/Scattering 4% 8,784
Total Votes 219,425

See also


  1. York ABC News, "2012 General Election Results," accessed November 6, 2012 (dead link)
  2. New York State Board of Elections, "Voting Deadline Page," accessed June 30, 2012
  3. New York Redistricting Map, "Map" accessed September 25, 2012
  4. Clarence Bee, "State Senate candidate calls for an end to fusion voting", accessed September 19, 2013
  5. Oregon Working Family Party, "What is Fusion Voting?", accessed September 19, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 New York Board of Elections "Filings for June 26, 2012 Federal Primary," April 18, 2012
  7. Press-Republican "Matt Doheny to run again," accessed December 23, 2011
  8. Watertown Daily Times "Sackets Harbor resident files paperwork to run for Congress," January 12, 2012
  9. 9.0 9.1 New York Board of Elections "List of Filings for June 26, 2012 Federal Primary," accessed May 30, 2012
  10. New York Times, "House Race Ratings," accessed August 10, 2012
  11. NRCC "Young Guns 2012"
  12. Watertown Daily Times, "Greene, Doheny diverge on H2A visa program," June 19, 2012
  13. Central New York YNN "Doheny hopes for second shot at Republican primary," June 8, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1 Post Star, "Doheny details priorities and tax platform in Glens Falls visit," June 14, 2012
  15. Post Star, "Green says most GOP hierarchy has shunned her," June 6, 2012
  16. Watertown Daily Times, "GOP primary debate is off," June 21, 2012
  17. Washington Post, "The Fix," "Redistricting battles hit a fever pitch," June 3, 2011
  18. Moonshadow Mobile's CensusViewer, "New York's congressional districts 2001-2011 comparison"
  19. Labels & Lists, "VoterMapping software voter counts"
  20. New York State Board of Elections, "District Active Enrollment 2012," April, 2012
  21. "2011 Redistricting and 2012 Elections in New York," September 2012
  22. Cook Political Report, "Partisan Voting Index Districts of the 113th Congress: 2004 & 2008" accessed October 2012
  23. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013