Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Final Thoughts on the 2005 Pittsburgh General Election

It feels a bit presumptuous to have "final thoughts" on a topic on which I've barely had first thoughts.  I, however, have never let presumptuousness stand in my way, so her goes:
First, I predict Bob O'Connor to win the mayoral election.  Big shock there.  In order to make it interesting, however, the question should be reframed as "how much will O'Connor win by?" or, if you want to be a stickler for grammar, "by how much will O'Connor win?" 
The Trib is predicting that about 60-70% of the electorate will stay home, which could mean that the outcome may be decided by about 40-50,000 people or less.  I'm going to assume that patterns are going to be similar to the 2001 election, in which Murphy trounced James Carmine 39,257 to 12,175 (or roughly a 3:1 ratio).  I'll compare that to the supposed 5:1 advantage Democrats have in the City (although a reputablesource for this elusive statistic has been difficult to find).
Anywho, Bob needs to do better than 3:1 over Weinroth in order to be a real "winner"... or at least claim more of a mandate than Murphy's last win.  I'm going to be comparing the actuals throughout the City to the 3:1 and 5:1 benchmarks to see in which wards the Republicans are making in-roads, if at all.  If Bob does worse than 3:1, we may see the Republicans take a closer look at the City of Pittsburgh as a viable target.
Second, how many Peduto, Lamb, Ludwig, etc. supporters are going to sit on their hands today?
Third, I think you'll see a huge turn out for Bob in Greenfield, Hazelwood, and the neighborhoods with a higher percentage of African-American voters... all of whom have a vested intered in an O'Connor Administration.  Or at least the ward chairs do.    
Fourth, the Democratic Party in Pittsburgh has become like a caged bear: slothful, obese, and moribund.  I hate to say it, as my Democratic Ward Chair Grandmother will rise from the grave and strangle me, but without natural competition ( i.e. viable Republican challengers), the Democrats have gotten lazy, and more so in recent years.  I think we've nearly reached a point that people vote Democrat, not because they truly like the party in Pittsburgh, but because (a) the alternative is philosophically worse and (b) the alternative would be fundamentally disruptive to the status quo.      
So, here's my bit of advice for the Republicans: run Elsie Hillman. 
OK, not necessarily Elsie, but some Republican with high visability and invovlement in the community and who is perceived as "non-threatening".  You need someone who understands the status quo and can move slowly towards change, rather than radical revolution.  You can't advocate upsetting the apple cart when everyone has their apples there; you can, however, advocate offloading the apples.  You may call it selling out; I call it pragmatism.
Alright, with that: go vote.  Or die.  Preferably vote. 

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