Alright, after this, no more posts about the 2005 Pittsburgh Mayoral Primary.
Until Part II.
Michael Madison from Pittsblog and Maria from 2politicaljunkies are pushing me to get to my friggin' point. I personally thought my point was to take a look at the pretty colors on the map and see if my image-hosting provider was worth a damn. I feel that I was wildly successful on those accounts, but unfortunately had the audacity to interject my own, apparently incorrect, interpretation of the data.
I will endeavor never to have an individual thought of my own from here on in and gladly and blindly follow the ways of my betters who think that the egg needs to be broken at the big end, not the small, toast should eaten be butter side up, not down, and that the donut-hotdog stand hats should be blue, not red. Because it matters.
Anyway enough of the scorn, back on topic: let’s complicate Primary Election matters further and look at some head-to-head and head-to-head-to-head races within the primary. According to the County Elections Results...
In 207 Districts, Peduto beats Lamb
In 197 Districts, Lamb beats (or ties) Peduto
In 331 Districts, O'Connor beats Peduto
In 73 Districts, Peduto beats (or ties) O'Connor
In 361 Districts, O'Connor beats Lamb
In 43 Districts, Lamb beats (or ties) O'Connor
In 307 Districts, O'Connor beats Peduto AND Lamb
In 66 Districts Peduto beats Lamb AND O'Connor
In 28 Districts Lamb beats O'Connor AND Peduto
AND THEREFORE, according to my math...
In 54 Districts, O'Connor beats Lamb, but not Peduto
In 141 Districts Peduto beats Lamb, but not O'Connor
In 15 Districts, Lamb beats O'Connor but not Peduto
So O’Connor trounces Peduto at about 5:1 and Lamb at about 9:1. Peduto and Lamb are roughly neck and neck. But who, pray tell, is siphoning votes away from who? Is Lamb a spoiler for Peduto? Is Peduto for Lamb? Would an O’Connor voter vote for Lamb over Peduto or the other way around? Well, what does this all mean?
I have a couple theories given what I’m seeing from the data:
I see five different undercurrents in the Pittsburgh Democratic structure: the Old Guard, the Revolutionaries, the New-Old Guard, the Black Caucus, and the Leftovers. Let's start last to first:
The Leftovers are the ones that voted for Henderson, Repovz, and Ludwig. These guys had some good spotty showings, but overall were barely a blip on the electoral map. I'm surmising that the people that voted for these candidates were either (1) Democrats disaffected with everything or (2) the candidates' families. As in any political system, there are going to be some fringe elements that draw some of these votes away from the more major candidates.
The Black Caucus represent the ones that voted for Kendrick, and is more indicative of some lingering, but very real, racial issues that the City of Pittsburgh faces. I found it interesting from the very beginning that Kendrick managed to pull out second place showings in several of the Voting Districts, and even a first place showing in one or two. These Districts were almost all (if not all) African American communities. While Bob O'Connor placed first almost always, it seemed interesting to me that Kendrick, who had fewer resources than nearly anyone other candidate, still managed to pull out a 2nd place showing. I believe that this means one of two things: (1) the African-American population of the City of Pittsburgh feels that the official Democratic party machine enfranchises them (which explains their turn out in support of O’Connor) and (2) the other, non slate, major candidates did not sufficiently represent their views. Of course, it could be both.
The New-Old Guard lies within the structure of the Old Guard. They are the ones who are looking to tame the beast that is the Democratic Machine so they can ride it. These are people that have been successful within the old system, but are generally wary of the direction the city is going. They are not necessarily interested in overthrowing the old system, but rather using the old system to their advantage as they make incremental reforms. They talk more about bond repayment and lien collection funds than anything interesting. They are trashed by the Old-Guard as being traitors and by the Revolutionaries as being apparatchiks of the system. They are dull and boring and dull and probably voted for Mr. Bucket-head himself, Michael Lamb.
The Revolutionaries seek to overthrow the system as it currently stands. They aren't looking to tame the beast or ride the beast, but kill the beast...and probably dance upon its grave singing "Hallelujah." They assume the posture of outsiders, although, given where their candidate Mr. Peduto did well, they represent a class of educated Bourgeoise-Bohemians ("BoBos" from now on, as I can't type "Bourgeoisie" over and over) who genuinely see Pittsburgh, or at least parts thereof, as a potential shining city-on-a-hill. While I have heard lofty goals and commendable ideals, the nuts and bolts of policy seem a bit spotty to me and, in the worst instances, elitist.
The Old Guard could have run this election in 1952, and probably did, although with less efficiency. It says a lot about the evolving Pittsburgh electorate when the Democratic Machine can only bring in 48% of the vote for their candidate. More specifically, this is the tell tale proof of my assertion that the hold of the Democratic Party is not as monolithic as it once was or even appears to be. Still, the Old Guard, in this election seems to be subdivided into "The-Powers-That-Be," "Those that Vote for The-Powers-That-Be," and "Those That Still F'ing Hate Tom Murphy." The Old Guard doesn't want change or trouble, and idealizes a city without troubles like the one it so fondly remembers from its childhood. These guys are comfortable with a Mayor who doesn't concern himself with big ideas, but a guy who can schmooze it up with fundraisers. It means stability; it means consistency; it means money. And it probably means they still get their damned early-bird discount.
But let's move away from the analysis of who I think the major factions are and do a little thought experiment:
WARNING: COUNTERFACTUALS AHEAD THAT INCLUDE THE LIBERAL USE OF A FICHUS TREE. THOSE WHO SEE REALITY AS BLACK/WHITE, GOOD/EVIL, WITH US/HATE AMERICA, SHOULD BEWARE.
Let us suppose that on the eve of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee meeting for endorsements, someone kidnaps Bob O'Connor's beloved fichus tree. The ransom note demands that Bob immediately drop out of the race, withdraw his name from consideration, ensure that no other Democrats enter the race, and keep his mouth shut about the race until November. Only then will his beloved fichus tree be returned safely. We are now left with six candidates to chose from.
So the question is: who wins the mayoral primary?
Given the factional structure above, I believe that Lamb would have gotten the blessing and endorsement of the ACDC as he is the "safe" choice. He lacks Bob's charisma and he's probably too close to the current administration, but he minimizes the risk of a complete undermining of their power.
Now, does this matter? Peduto's own victory in Council District 8 shows that you don't necessarily need the endorsement to win. I think we can agree, however, that the endorsement doesn't hurt you.
What about the money? Bob had a ton of it and won. Bill had less than Mike and came in second. Kendrick had nothing and still eked out a fourth place showing. Does money matter in this case? If Bob is out of the picture, where does this money flow to, if it flows at all? Does the ACDC endorsement affect any of that flow, or is Bob supporting certain policy positions that lend themselves to contributions by certain donors. Are Mike or Bill willing to whore themselves out to highway contractors for the chance of large contributions? What about the Soffer Organization? The Firefighters Union?
My reaction is that the big amounts of money are going to flow towards the "safe" choice, i.e., someone who has the least chance of rocking the boat and furthers policies in the interests of the contributors. The less safe candidate still has a chance, however, in that not all of the money will flow; the chances to tap into this money are much better than against the Bob O'Connor powerhouse.
But will the money make a difference? The runner-up candidates all suffer from a similar problem: they are very strong in their base, but weak across the city. Additional money would allow these candidates to spread their message a bit further outside of their base. But will a Revolutionary message resonate in Brookline? A Traditionalist message in the Southside? A Black message in Point Breeze? Can money help get people to like you and your message, or just get your name out there?
I'm pretty sure that there are some messages that aren't going to play well across factions. Zero-line budgeting probably infuriates those of the Old Guard that are dependant on their consistent budget line item. Similarly, a property lien back-back program means absolutely nothing to people that are more concerned about police or safety. But messages can be broadened and money can drive those messages home.
So we can run whatever scenarios we want: without the Old Guard in the race, do the Revolutionaries take on Old Guard votes and money or do the New-Old Guard? Are the Old Guard more likely to vote for The Revolutionaries or the New Old Guard? Who does the Black Caucus lean towards? What will the Old Guard voters do?
Those are just some things to think about and clog up my inbox about. I have no answers as I open the egg from the little end, eat my toast butter-side-down, and wear the red donut-hotdog hats.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Alright, after this, no more posts about the 2005 Pittsburgh Mayoral Primary.