U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin and Assemb. Andrew Garbarino won congressional seats in part by doing better in certain Long Island election districts than Republicans two years earlier and by outperforming President Donald Trump in others, an analysis by Newsday of election data shows.
The review of updated state election data shows Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) won reelection in a remarkably similar fashion to 2018, thanks to his usual strongholds such as Sea Cliff, Plainview, Huntington Station and his hometown. But his winning margin declined slightly because he lost some districts he previously carried in Great Neck and Albertson.
In key state legislative races featuring first-term Democrats, Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) survived dips in Levittown and North Wantagh by improving on his 2018 margins in Garden City, Malverne Park Oaks and West Hempstead. Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) lost in part by losing ground in Islandia and Ronkonkoma.
And in the presidential election, Trump fared worse in Nassau and Suffolk counties compared with 2016 and this time lost Long Island overall. He did narrowly carry Suffolk.
Here’s a snapshot of how Long Islanders voted in the 2020 contests:
Turnout across New York State grew notably from 2016, when more than 7.5 million votes were cast for president, to 2020, when more than 8.5 million were cast — with Democratic President-elect Joe Biden garnering the lion’s share of the increase.
Biden collected about 600,000 more votes statewide than 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In comparison, Trump’s total grew 400,000.
That statewide trend also was reflected on the Island.
Trump went from taking Suffolk County by about 47,000 votes in 2016 to just 232 this year.
In Nassau, he went from losing by about 40,000 votes in 2016 to losing by nearly 70,000 this year.
On the Island overall, Trump went from winning by 7,000 votes in 2016 to losing by about 69,000.
Among the areas that flipped from Trump to the Democrats were Remsenburg, East Quogue, Speonk, Southport and parts of Westhampton, Merrick and Lloyd Harbor.
In Long Island’s most contested races, Republicans collected a better percentage of votes than they did in 2018, an expected bounce-back from what was Democrats’ big "blue wave" year.
Democrats believed they had a chance to win New York’s 2nd Congressional District because Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) was retiring and the Republicans’ candidate, Garbarino (R-Sayville), did not reside in Nassau County, the most "red" part of the district.
But Garbarino prevailed over Democrat Jackie Gordon by faring almost as well as King did in Nassau in 2018 and outperforming him in Suffolk County.
Garbarino collected 62.5% of the vote in Nassau, not far from King’s 64% in 2018. In Suffolk, Garbarino garnered 49% of the vote compared with King’s 48% two years earlier.
Garbarino won parts of Sayville, Bayport and Deer Park that King had lost.
Garbarino also outperformed Trump in certain spots, such as winning districts in Farmingdale and Holbrook that Trump lost and rolling up victory margins that were 4 or 5 percentage points bigger than the president’s in some Republican areas, such as Bohemia.
Zeldin (R-Shirley) defeated Democrat Nancy Goroff, a Stony Brook University professor, by collecting 55% of the vote — beating the 52% total he scored in 2018 when he defeated Perry Gershon.
Zeldin won some districts he lost in 2018, including pockets of Southold and Brookhaven.
Like Garbarino, Zeldin also outperformed Trump in certain areas, taking districts in Blue Point, Sound Beach, Belle Terre and parts of Patchogue where the president lost.
Suozzi won reelection by a comfortable 46,000-vote margin over Republican George Santos, collecting 55% to Santos’ 44%. But his share did dip slightly from the 57% he won in 2018, with decreases in parts of the three counties that make up the 3rd Congressional District.
The Democrat’s share in Suffolk dropped from 55% to 53%; in Nassau, from 60% to 56%; and in Queens, 68% to 62%.
Many Democratic strongholds in the district voted in remarkably similar percentages to 2018. But Suozzi lost some previously held ground in Great Neck and Albertson. In some GOP areas such as Kings Point, his showing went from 34% in 2018 to 20% this year.
Thomas, Martinez and Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport) were the freshman Democrats on the Island targeted by Republicans. Only Martinez lost.
Thomas won because of Democratic strength in Hempstead, Uniondale and Old Bethpage while Republican Dennis Dunne carried the usual GOP territories in Garden City and Massapequa.
But a breakdown shows small swings that helped Thomas prevail with 50.7% of the vote.
For example, although he lost Garden City, Thomas’ share of the vote climbed from about 30% in 2018 to 34% this year. In Garden City South, he went from 33% to 36%.
Though he lost Malverne Park Oaks with 47% in 2018, Thomas won it with nearly 52% this time. He also broke even in Hicksville after narrowly losing it (48%) two years ago.
Gaughran also survived, although his vote share dropped from 54.3% in 2018 to 50.4% this year — enough to edge Republican Edmund Smyth. Gaughran ran strong in some of the same areas as last cycle, such as Huntington Station, Plainview and Seaford. Smyth dominated in Old Brookville, Lloyd Harbor and Bayville.
Some of the differences this time for Gaughran: He lost Centerport, the Steers Beach/Crab Meadow portion of Northport, Lefferts Mill and parts of Brookville and Glen Cove, all of which he carried last time.
Martinez was a surprise winner in 2018 but this time lost to Republican Alexis Weik in the 3rd Senate District, 52% to 48%. Martinez again won Brentwood, East Brentwood, Islandia and North Bellport. Weik tallied big margins in places such as Sayville, Oakdale and Holbrook.
But Martinez’s percentages decreased notably in some areas of Brookhaven she had won before. For instance, in a Bellport district, she dropped from 68% in 2018 to 64% in 2020 and from 55% to 51% in another. She won South Haven with 57% — but that was a decline from the 62% she tallied there two years ago.
In West Sayville, Martinez won 52%-48% two years ago. This time, she lost 52%-48%.
It was the type of small change that turned a narrow victory in 2018 into a narrow defeat this time around.