Western New York’s bucolic charm, calmer pace, and lower cost of living often draw visitors from New York City. For the unaccustomed, the MAGA signs and occasional Confederate flags in residents’ front yards can come as a rude surprise. But the state of New York is vast and diverse, and its 27th congressional district is particularly enormous: It’s home to around 713,000 people and encompasses Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, and Livingston counties, as well as parts of Erie, Monroe, Niagara, and Ontario, most of Buffalo’s eastern and southern suburbs, most of Rochester’s southern suburbs, and farm country to the east and south.
Amber Hainey, a local progressive activist who has spent most of her life in Livingston County, said in a phone conversation that what it lacks in racial diversity (it’s 92 percent white) it makes up for in socioeconomic diversity. Many residents work in agriculture, the service industry—Walmart and Wegmans are top employers—or county or local government. Some are scraping by, some are solidly middle class, and some live in suburban McMansions.