Thursday, May 26, 2005

My Final Word on the 2005 Pittsburgh Mayoral Primary (Part 1)

Alright, after this, no more posts about the 2005 Pittsburgh Mayoral Primary.

I promise.

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.

For shame!

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.

Or not.

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

AND...

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
(3 ties)

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.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can sum it up easily:

How many years have the democrats been running the City of Pittsburgh? All of those years constitued higher taxes, more businesses leaving? Nothing like taxing ourselves out of debt, huh? That works. Yeah, let's tax ourselves into prosperity - if we do that, hell, we'll all be swimming in dough. *eyes roll*

When will you people ever learn? Answer? Never. You get what you vote for, and time and time and time again, you never will get the point. That being said, you deserve the City Of Pittsburgh that you helped "create." Enough said.

Tom Cocks said...

Lamb would win ACDC vs. Peduto, but that would hurt him in the East End.

To me what sticks out: Remove the East End from Peduto and the South Hills from Lamb and put peduto v. lamb. In this hypothetical, Peduto beats Lamb at all levels. That is why I believe peduto is the better candidate in the future.

Be a scientist and analyze the data; don't be a numerologist.

Hopefully Lamb learns from this, reaches out to Peduto and tries to avoid repeating this fate.

Anonymous said...

Cocks' assessment is half-cocked. So what if Peduto got more votes than Lamb outside their bases? It means nothing because if O'Connor wasn't in the race most of his votes would have gone to Lamb, the more moderate of the two progressive candidates. And please take a look at Lamb's campaign platform. It is every bit as attactive to liberals as Peduto's is, which might explain why so many East Enders went for Lamb and why there was only a 1,000 vote difference between the two. That's only about 2.5 votes per district. All this talk of Peduto crushing Lamb is wrong, and the presumption that Peduto is the mayor-in-waiting is wildly premature.

tom cocks said...

In your own words ...

"So what if Peduto got more votes than Lamb."

Ah, the guy with more votes wins ... that's how elections work.

And if you EXAMINE THE DATA you'll realize Lamb is a distant, extremely distant, 3rd in the East End. Peduto is ahead of BobbyO and Lamb is way, way behind.

For instance, Lamb loses to BobbyO in 7 481 to 317. Lamb loses to BobbyO in 14 3067 to 1893. Lamb loses to Bobby O in 11 945 to 355!!!

Peduto won all 3 of those wards. (Bill racked up 999 votes in 7, 3294 in 14 and 1048 in 11)

If Lamb can't beat BobbyO in 7 (shadyside), or 14 (Sq. Hill), or 11 (Peoples Republic of Highland Park) then we can logically conclude your assertion that "so many East Enders went for Lamb" is total BULL.

You speak of undefined phrases like "moderate" and "progressive" as your rationale for Lamb's potential.

I'm looking at THE DATA and pointing out that Bill beat Lamb and O'Connor in the East End, and beats Lamb in the rest of the city outside of Lamb's Dad's senate seat.

DENIAL is not just a river in Egypt. Lamb came in 3rd even though he outspent bill peduto almost 2 to 1. He lost to peduto even though he began his campaign in August 2004 and Peduto announced his campaign in late February 2005.

LOOK AT THE DATA.

Bill Peduto:

Has more total votes that Lamb.

Beat Lamb in 20 of the city's 32 Wards.

Beat Lamb in more than half of the city's precincts.

Beat Lamb even though he was outspent 2 to 1 by Lamb.

At every level, district, ward, and city, Peduto beats Lamb. He did this with less money. Remove both candidates natural bases and Peduto wins the neutral areas over 50 percent of the time.

I mean, THE DATA just screams it over and over again. Bill Peduto is a better candidate and he ran a better campaign.

What else do you have to see?

Envy just blinds a man doesn't it.

Bubba said...

None of you Peduto kool-aid drinkers are willing to realize this very obvious fact: in the absense of an O'Connor candidacy, who would O'Connor voters pick? Lamb.

Lamb would get the party, and the party loyal voters (particularly in the black wards). Lamb appears more moderate than Peduto, and this city is conservative - look at how many vote O'Connor got.

Lamb had no fanatical following like Peduto, but he was able to raise more money than Peduto even when it was clear that his campaign (and Bill's) was going nowhere. Most of Peduto's money came in 2004 when people thought he was only running for re-election to council, with the exception being the sprinkling from O'Connor's camp to keep him in the race to split the reform vote. People who gave to Lamb gave because they believed he was the competent, albeit boring, public manager that the city needs right now. Not because they were irrational idealoges, and not because they were jumping aboard the bandwagon of the sure winner (O'Connor).

Granted, Bill does have the artist vote pretty much locked up...

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