Thursday, November 08, 2007

the thousand words....

Ex post thoughts on the race that wasn’t…….

First off. Give Delano credit where due. He pointed out early on that the media would feel obliged to report this election as a horse race despite no evidence that there really was one. I wonder how I got so cynical? It is important to note why Delano made that pseudo-prediction. It wasn’t that the Democrat always wins, it was that he sensed out on the street a general satisfaction with how things were going in the city. It’s an important point to understanding the results and the gap between the LR and MD supporters out there.

With MD getting 35% of the vote, the debates have already begun over what those results mean. Did Desantis do well or poorly. Is 35% high, low, and how does it reflect on LR who won with 63% of the vote. People want to say that MD did quite well compared to Weinroth’s showing just two years ago, but what does that mean. When all is said and done there is this little factor of a half million dollars that might have helped out a wee bit. If you are going to make comparisons you have to account for the huge disparity in $$ available to the two (and most previous) candidates. For a half $million or so in cash MD was able to generate 7 percentage points more support than Joe Weinroth did with virtually no cash, no support from within his party or otherwise, and just a few limited endorsements. Along with in-kind contributions, the marginal votes cost over a $hundred each. That’s not cheap as these things go.

A question that has to be asked: what would the result have been if Weinroth had half the cash Desantis spent for this election? How about if he had a quarter of that cash? Weinroth was barely able to keep the doors open due to a lack of funds and spent nothing on mass media. Even a token mailing or any radio/tv presence would have introduced him to enough voters and generate a few more percentage points in the election returns. You can be sure that there were people out there willing to vote for the Republican candidate, but had no idea there was anyone else on the ballot other than Bob O. going into the 2005 general election. Those people didn’t bother to show up as a result. Unlike this race, there was no message hitting the public about there being a contested race for mayor. In 2005 everyone was quite clear that Weinroth would lose, and lose big. Even Weinroth supporters who knew there was an election had no reason to show up at the polls and many probably didn’t. I would argue that if the media had portrayed the 2005 race as contested as they did this time around, or portrayed that this race would be a blowout as they did in 2005, the two results would have been a lot closer to each other. Even if only partially true, I could call that a Heisenberg effect.

Which leads to the question some don’t want to hear, but did Desantis do worse than Weinroth as a candidate? To borrow a phrase, the level of cognitive dissonance in this race was astronomical. It’s one thing to know you are an underdog, but so many people completely misunderstood the actual public sentiment out there that you have to believe that translated into misallocation of resources. What I noticed was that even the people who acknowledged MD would probably lose still really thought he would come in between 40-45% based on mostly “personal” polling. Those who really thought he was going to win are another case altogether. Consider that just half the straight ticket pullers from last year showed up this time compared to last year. And then imagine for the sake of argument that everything was the same, but that LR had provided just a bit less chalkboard material over the last few months. What would the results have been? Does MD personally get credit for any of those ABL votes people say were out there?

I’m sure there will be all sorts of other explanations on how this all happened… The mythical Democratic machine will be the number one reason suggested by all local pundits. It’s just too simplistic an explanation to explain anything. but it sure does sound good. To borrow another phrase, it comes under the category of contagious popular nonsense. If the Democratic machine could deliver votes in a mayoral race, Pete Flaherty would be just a footnote to history and Tom Flaherty could be in his 4th term as mayor. Pete Flaherty first ran against Judge Harry Kramer, who had the unanimous endorsement of the ACDC, yet still won the nomination. 4 years later, Richard Caliguiri actually won the ACDC endorsement over then incumbent mayor Flaherty, an amazing feat. Yet again Flaherty won over the party’s appointed candidate. As an independent himself, Caliguiri would win election as mayor against the Democratic party nominee (and political machine unto himself) Tom Foerster. In 1989, Tom Flaherty would be the ACDC endorsed candidate for mayor and would come in last, or near last, in the mayoral primary. Even the party-endorsed and incumbent Tom Murphy would barely hold off challenger Bob O. in 2001. Party imprimatur just didn’t guarantee much of anything. I would only pose one question for all those who will be convinced of this “machine” explanation. In this case, did the electorate follow where ACDC leadership pointed, or was it the other way around? Never confuse correlation with causality… or worse yet get the causality backwards.

So all of that begs the question of explaining the results. My own take is that you can explain the results as follows:

1) Nobody wins on their resume… ever. For everyone who trotted out MD’s resume as a reason to vote for him missed this point altogether and only hurt their cause with much of the public. People are looking for whether you will represent them and their ideals. I am reminded of a classic race in 1988 where New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg was running against a challenger hand picked from central casting to run against him. Pete Dawkins had about as picture perfect resume as you could create: polio survivor, West Point graduate, Rhodes Scholar, General in the Army, Veteran of course, war hero with a slew of medals to boot, successful business person and so on. He also just looked the part with all the charisma you would want. Frank Lautenberg might have come close to matching some of the business credentials but that was about it. There was pre-election polling that indicated a well positioned Republican could take the seat even. It was the national focus campaign of the cycle with lots of money thrown in on both sides. Dawkins the challenger had all the cash he needed to get before the public. In the end it just didn’t matter and Lautenberg won by a decent margin, would later retire but come back out of retirement.

2) Trust takes time to build. I really believe that the odd write-in way Desantis got on the ballot was someone’s bright idea of how to make it appear as if Desantis was ‘drafted’ by the people to run. Call me cynical, but I don’t believe that it was all as ad-hoc’ish as it appeared. All it really did was just shorten the time people had to get to know the candidate and build some basic trust over who he was. Few voters are willing to trust someone who appears to have come out of the blue. Forgoing the entire spring and all the free media that would have gone along with the regular primary nomination process hurt a lot.. and then it was not helped by the fairly slow start that some thought extended into the summer.

3) Be prepared. I really think the Desantis campaign was doomed when the City Paper asked MD if he wanted to explain his contribution to the Santorum campaign. The problem was not the contribution itself, but the complete lack of preparation for how to respond. It was a question that was obviously going to be asked. Given the things that politicians have been able to overcome, this could have been nothing if he had just had an answer. As CP tells it all MD did was “shake his head” when asked about that particular donation. Either the preparation for that interview was non-existent or what I suspect, there was this deep denial that the media would bother to ask anything other than softball questions. The CP gave MD the perfect early opportunity to inoculate his campaign from the potential negative spin that would inevitably come, but he chose to say… nothing?

4) Don’t insult the voters. Seems simple enough advice, yet I’ve never seen it so thoroughly ignored. Someone has to say this and I honestly don’t believe it came from the top, but MD supporters typically tried to argue with people that only “dumb yinzers” would not be voting for their candidate. It’s just a silly tactic that in the end alienates the people you are trying to convince to support you. Like I said, I really don’t think it came from Mark or his top advisors, but they certainly didn’t do much to rein it in either. It was obvious not only online, but in what I am told were typical doorknocking conversations. One person told me of their experience with a MD doorknocker. They were actually open to the prospect of voting for MD at one point… but the argument they heard was that MD needed support to balance all the “dumb yinzers” from elsewhere in the city who would be voting for LR because they “don’t think”. That doorknocker probably walked away thinking they had convinced a voter to support MD, when they had really lost a household of voters. When I first heard stories like this cynical me was convinced that there were LR supporters out there trying to poison the well, but it was such a consistent theme that I doubt any extra help at that type of self-destruction was needed.

What does it all mean? I take MD at his word that he wanted to impact the future of the city and region. I am quite sure he did. The one clear result of all of this is that LR comes out of this race a much stronger candidate than he went into it. He gains a legitimacy of having won a contested election which he could not have generated on his own. Why did LR not do TV? As Bill Green has been explaining, he could have pushed the results above the 63%. But they needed this to appear to be a contested race. If this was even more of a blowout (and yes, in a general election a 27 point margin counts as a blowout no matter the history) it would be that much easier to discount. Compared to where he would be if this race had not happened, I think most would agree is in a much stronger position looking to the 2009 election season. Remember when people wanted there to be a off-year election despite the opinion from the city solicitor that the interim term should last until 2010. People got the election they demanded, though I still suspect that a legal challenge could have blocked this race from ever happening in the first place. Then remember when Bill P. argued for a primary race that had just him head to head with LR so as to not have his support diluted among other east end candidates. He also got exactly what he wished for.

Be careful what you wish for.

break. check fire. incoming.


Blogger Schultz said...

"The mythical Democratic machine will be the number one reason suggested by all local pundits. It’s just too simplistic an explanation to explain anything. but it sure does sound good."

Mythical? Are you serious? I was at the polls. I witnessed the machine in action. I have pictures. I have also heard stories of the machine at work in the Hill District and other African American neighborhoods.

The DeSantis campaign did not have the time or the money to build an infrastructure to complete with "the machine", so while that might explain why he didn't break 40%, I don't think 6 more months and another half million dollars would have given a him shot at beating Ravenstahl since the turnout was as high as it was.

I didn't think that with a turnout of over 60,000 there wasn't really a chance for DeSantis to win, due to the voting patterns you posted some time ago, but I did expect him to get at least 25,000 votes, and with that, a chance to win if turnout was really low at around 50,000. Monday's monsoon was a day too early I suppose.

Mark knows he lost a good number of votes because of his position on the city employee residency requirement, but again, those votes may have pushed him up into the high 30's, not much more though.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 6:08:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

the question I am asking was whether MD campaigned better than JW which is a very different question than whether MD, or someone else, could have won under any circumstances. Maybe I will comment on that question in the future.

but no matter. I suspect this would not be the right format to get into all of this, but I wonder what you think you saw at the polls that is relevant to the 'machine' question. Maybe a better place to start is asking what people even mean by the term. I have this funny image of Barbara E. and Jim B. sitting around a smoke free bar having mohitos deciding who wins the next election. Is it them? Barbara didn't even deliver her own precinct, and Jim B is from Milvale. Is it the Allegheny County Democratic Committee which I think measures 2600 people give or take. They agree on anything? Is it literally some secret group that meets in the back room? How many local politicians started their political careers by running against the party endorsed candidate?

If you can, reread that paragraph on the 'machine'. It has nothing to do with whether MD could have gotten elected. I fully stipulate the obvious that Democratic party support for luke correlates with the election returns. But how did that come about and why him? Again, correlation and causality are not the same.

maybe I should have kept this all much simpler and asked the question this way: I wonder what people conjecture the result would have been if MD was running against Bob O? or even Tom Murphy? Better or worse than this election? Better or worse than Weinroth 2 years ago?

Thursday, November 08, 2007 7:16:00 PM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

(commenting one snippet at a time...)

Doesn't DeSantis deserve CREDIT for having raised much, much more money than Weinroth? Why should one discount his better performance because "Oh, it's just because he raised more money?"

Thursday, November 08, 2007 7:40:00 PM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

"Don’t insult the voters ... It was obvious not only online, but in what I am told were typical doorknocking conversations."

I can't speaking to doorknockers -- that would have been, well, pretty stupid. But as self-appointed spokesman for the mainstream burghosphere, I have to take issue with this developing meme.

Number one, I think most sites kept things pretty above-board and issue-oriented, with occasional exceptions. Please do me the favor of highlighting some of these posts in which the Dumb Yinzers come under fire -- not the anonymous comments, I mean the posts. Especially if they were on my blog. Maybe I am deluding myself, but I truly think some pundits are falling prey to spin and easy stereotyping.

Number two, if insulting voters is bad, what about all the rhetoric about elitist affluent east-enders who aren't "real Pittsburghers?" Isn't that not only insulting, but divisive?

Number three, I don't think its fair to hold a massively open-source medium like the blogosphere to the standards of a military-style political campaign. A few of us may have gotten wrapped up in volunteer electioneering, but even then there was very little coordination of message; I'm not sure who you would "advise" as to how to do things better.

Fourth and finally, if the burghosphere deserved not a modicum of credit for the favorable result of the primaries, how are we suddenly powerful enough to have blown the general?

Thursday, November 08, 2007 8:01:00 PM  
Blogger Schultz said...

The problem I have with comparing this race to 2005 and Weinroth is that while DeSantis didn't do a heck of a lot better percentage wise, he did get roughly 24,000 votes. If the turnout was the same as 2005, roughly 60,000, I think most of the 8,000+ who stayed home would have been voting for Luke anyways, which means DeSantis would could have finished closer to 40%, which would have been huge considering the circumstances.

And yes, heck yes, did DeSantis campaign better. His policy proposals along with the debates forced Ravenstahl to think about the big issues - the fiscal crisis, economic development, blight, public safety, etc. As far as getting out on the streets - DeSantis was much more visible in the neighborhoods than Peduto was when he ran back in 2005.

Ravenstahl is already using a DeSantis idea, which is mandating that the Casino be a LEED certified building (Ravenstahl chided DeSantis in the first debate about this idea), and he also took some of our ideas for dealing with the urban blight.

So, since the mayor is using some good policy that his opponent came up with (sound familiar Bill Peduto?!) this race, IMO, was much much bigger than that the 35% figure.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 8:09:00 PM  
Blogger Schultz said...

The machine is not so and so sitting at a bar and talking about who they will anoint the next mayor of Pittsburgh. It is much bigger than that and much more difficult to explain. I'll give you my take on it but Bram or another blogger with more experience dealing with this

The machine is the good old boys network - the tightly knit integration of the elected officials, their buddies, their respective neighborhoods, and the political favors that these elected officials - councilman, assemblyman, senate, mayor, etc do for their buddies who then help their buddies get work, their streets paved, trees cut down, etc, etc. The machine is also why so and so who is voting for DeSantis fears for their future when we ask them to donate or put up a yard sign.

"I don't know, I may need a favor or a job for my daughter when she gets out of college. I don't want to piss so and so off" is one example I heard.

Change would ruin all of this 'fun' and 'looking out' for everyone who is feeding off of this system of favors and bribes - yes, I said it, corruption!

I don't know what went down in the Hill District exactly but it sure sounds like the machine at work. I witnessed the croonies in action, the friends and allies of the councilman (and even a councilman and state senator) working the polls and trying to influence voters. I saw this at the polls in both Beechview and Brookline, and I have pictures to prove it.

Without a two party system, there is no checks and balance. I heard of many many polls where there were no Republican committee people working, let alone DeSantis volunteers such as myself. I wouldn't be surprised if some funny business did indeed go down at these polling places.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 8:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

schultz-- the Hill is represented by Councilwoman Tonya Payne.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 8:39:00 PM  
Blogger Schultz said...

Yes, I know that, but I was talking a about my experience in ward 19, hill, should have made that more clear. Sorry for the confusion.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 8:47:00 PM  
Blogger Schultz said...

"not the hill" I meant to say. Someone else caught some of the action in the Hill District and has photos on her site. I am too lazy to post it though.

check out

Thursday, November 08, 2007 9:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

Mark DeSantis is a very wealthy guy. Joe Weinroth isn't. One is upper class, the other is middle class.

To raise and spend $400k takes a few rich guys.

Are the rich the only ones who should govern?

I feel strongly that leadership has nothing to do with personal wealth. And, I feel more strongly that having strong ethical principles has nothing to do with personal wealth.

Pittsburgh needs leadership and management. It got that with Bob O'Connor. But, Bob was very soft on the policy elements.

DeSantis can't prove leadership and management on a resume. Pittsburgh is too skeptical, thankfully.

That 'doubt' also transfers to policy positions. DeSantis is strong on the geek and wonkishness. But, the papers came late. They were without roots. They were without a full introduction of the person.

Position papers can be from elsewhere too. Did Scranton folks write those and deliver them through a suit? Unsure. Unproven. Doubt. Jaded.

DeSantis needs to be a guy that goes way beyond the talking points now. He needs to engage in saving Schenley High School. He needs to open the micro-credit. He needs to sound off on the county budget, the drink tax, the Tessitor transit plan to split rail from buses. He needs to get into rumbles.

Then that policy treasure (if it is such) and resume will have grip in the community.

DeSantis didn't present enough of himself with enough associations to drive all the voters away from the party lever.

I feel that Weinroth with $400k against Luke (as in 2007) would have been +/- 3% from where DeSantis stood.

I feel that DeSantis with 20k against Bob (as in 2005) would have been +/- 3% from where Weinroth stood.

I feel that DeSantis with $200k and 12 to 15 changes in 2007 against Luke could have been 10 to 12% better in the final vote total.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 9:28:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

By the way, Delano is there to sell soap. The media wanted to make a race of things so it would get more $ for ads.

That is the hungry beast that needs to be fed.

We don't need the media to tell us when there is an election and campaign. As soon as we can craft our own campaigns -- without the need for $200,000, $400k or the wished for $1-M to $2-M, then the city will have better government and elected officals, and campaigns of merit on issues.

That is how Pittsburgh is going to have to heal itself. Real viable campaigns where $ is the last of our worries and leadership, policy, trust and community rule.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 9:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think that's a good point about the media. Do people really believe that the campaigns and the media didn't have polls?

of course they did. Who knows, maybe all the hype drove turnout up a few points.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 9:38:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

well, Mark sure seems energized by his election performance. I am not sure we need to start throwing that class stuff out there. I honestly don't recall anything in MD's bio that be so blatantly 'upper class'... as amorphous as that term is.

CS: would lower headcount have helped MD? I know some of us said as much going into this. but it does not work out that way in the sense you are taking it. The turnout was much more consistent between BO and LR votes than between JW and MD votes. The biggest increase in turnout was the 2,000 or so more voters in 14 compared to 2005. If you exclude some of the smaller wards, 7 had the biggest percentage increase in votes cast. Looks pretty obvious that the higher turnout was mostly MD voters. If the same 60K people showed up as last time, wouldnt it be fair to conclude that the MD counts would be lower since they are the variable votes here? 19 does work the other way a bit, are you sure your presence didnt push up LR counts? (Ok, bad joke, apologies). But overall your assumption that lower headcount would all have been LR voters is backwards isn't it? You dont get to ignore where the higher turnout was coming from when you try to back out what a lower turnout would have meant.

Bram, I don't think I mentioned blogs in there at all did I? and they have little to do with any of what I was trying to say in this post??

the point about whether MD deserves credit for raising money is fair enough. Sure, MD deserves credit for his fundraising, but the dearth of Weinroth funds clearly reflects more of an external decision among Republican leaders not to invest in his campaign. Not even $100K for a token run is saying something. The point is still there, if he had $100K to do any outreach, would he have come in a few points higher?

on the machine. OK, it's not the leaders but some collective self-interest I take is your meaning although it does not begin to answer how they choose one candidate over the other. It is also a very different concept than 'machine' as history has used the term. If a state senator was out trying to influence votes, you take that as machine politics? I would think that a semi-effective machine wouldn't need senior people out trying to influence anyone... they would just be taking their directions as handed down. I suspect you were out trying to influence voters as well. And didnt the MD ads on tv invoke David Lawrence as a visionary leader for Pittsburgh. There was a machine politician. Irony?

I really think people should put the corruption charges out there clearly and stop talking in vague generalities that it is impossible to respond to. Beyond that many a challenger have overcome the arguably unfair advantages an incumbent has. Those work in the primary as well yet non-endorsed people win often. Sheer corruption exists as well, the TC trial is starting soon isn't it? If you are really saying that type of alleged malfeasance exists everywhere, put the details on the table.

as for no desantis volunteers and "funny business" in some places. Again, its irresponsible to talk such generalities for something so serious. Are you alleging more of the dead voters myth?

Thursday, November 08, 2007 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

Your post said:

"Like I said, I really don’t think it came from Mark or his top advisors, but they certainly didn’t do much to rein it in either. It was obvious not only online, but in what I am told were typical doorknocking conversations."

I took "online" to mean the blogs, and by "it was obvious not only online, but" to mean the disrespect was, in your opinion, clear and prevalent on the blogs. Not sure how else I should have taken it, but maybe I am smarting from similar analysis from Potter and O'Neill.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Schultz said...

"Again, its irresponsible to talk such generalities for something so serious. Are you alleging more of the dead voters myth?"

I received a call on Tuesday afternoon from someone who said Ravenstahl and his crew were hovering all over the polls in the Hill District. This blog has the photos, and some videos, so go ahead please read it for yourself. Don't be surprised if this goes somewhere as I believe a few people (election lawyers) are already looking into improprieties.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger Schultz said...

"If a state senator was out trying to influence votes, you take that as machine politics? I would think that a semi-effective machine wouldn't need senior people out trying to influence anyone... they would just be taking their directions as handed down. I suspect you were out trying to influence voters as well."

It is not just one state senator being present at the polls. It is the that all of these people, elected officials, their pals, their cronies, etc are hanging out there to make sure the folks get the instructions "make sure to push the straight Democrats button."

Yes, I was there to influence people and to look out for anything shady. The influence part was pointless, because after they passed me there was Jim who happened to know everybody in the neighborhood and who happened to be buddies with the councilman, who probably instructed him to make sure everyone pushes the D button.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger Schultz said...

Rauterkus - Weinroth is a lawyer, is he not? You make it sound like DeSantis came from money but that is not so. He went to school for a long time and then got into working down on Capital Hill, and then the White House. I don't think those were high paying jobs, were they? Seems like he went out and made it on his own so I don't see how you can knock him for that.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 11:59:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

umm. improper electioneering and corruption are in different leagues I think. and election lawyers? I know a few myself and I think you are making criminal accusations. I don't think election lawyers would be involved in any way.

but even uber right wing Bill Green thought this was all less than nothing. Laura herself called into the Post-Gazette and they told her this was all legal and I am sure they would love a good story if there was one here. Even if improper, if this is what you are talking about machine corruption I understand why you see it everywhere.

Friday, November 09, 2007 12:13:00 AM  
Blogger Schultz said...

"Even if improper, if this is what you are talking about machine corruption I understand why you see it everywhere."

Quit putting word in my mouth. You're a bright guy so if you still need help defining what a political machine is and how it operates then look it up here on wikipedia. I should have done that in the first place.

I work in Chicago presently, home to one of the biggest, if not the biggest, political machines in the country.

Friday, November 09, 2007 2:08:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Friday, November 09, 2007 9:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please do me the favor of highlighting some of these posts in which the Dumb Yinzers come under fire -- not the anonymous comments, I mean the posts.

Anonymous comments don't count as "online" interaction? I thought they were a key part of what made the blogosphere such a unique public forum.

But here's just one example, not from "Democrats for DeSantis" (whose sins are already on the record and confessed) but from (whose author was also "Blogger for DeSantis.").

"Ms. Pist believes we Pittsburghers are for the most part hopeless, hapless and clueless. Ms. Pist believes Ravenstahl will win the election and Pittsburgh will continue on the path to its own demise. I guess it’s just what Darwin referred to as 'the process of natural selection’.

Huge thanks to the Post-Gazette and the Trib for standing up and doing what’s right. Mega-Super-Kudos especially to the Post-Gazette who has risked paying subscriptions from the mindless and the myopic."

I don't know if Char did volunteer work for DeSantis or not. Judging from her site, she did do some random polling. For DeSantis' sake, I hope she kept such attitudes as these to herself. But apparently both Briem and I have encountered similar attitudes elsewhere. (It's worth noting that to his credit, DeSantis himself NEVER once uttered this sort of contemptuous statement. Nor does he harbor such feelings.)

And note the response -- or rather the lack of it -- to Char's language. You complain about stereotyping bloggers, Bram, but you didn't object to this MUCH cruder stereotyping of an entire city. One anonymous commenter did cite Char's "manifest contempt for workers" or some such, but that's about it. In fact, Chad Hermann, a blogger admired by the pro-DeSantis (oops!) set, praised the post as follows: "In a campaign full of great posts, you've truly outdone yourself, Char. Great work. And beautifully written."

I'm not saying Char, or a bunch of anonymous commentors, speak for the blogosphere. I'm not trying to hold up a couple of posts as representative of all the rest. But since you just appointed yourself "spokesman for the mainstream burghosphere," let me ask: Where were you when one of your own depicted Pittsburghers as a bunch of mindless brutes worthy of a Darwinian winnowing-out?

Chris Briem and I both offered a fairly banal piece of advice: If you want your candidate to support to win a race, don't insult the electorate. I can't speak for Chris, but I think in my case, it goes without saying that such advice applies only to people who would be tempted to do so in the first place. And incidentally, I can sympathize with that response: I'll confess that after 2004, I had a "those Republicans are dumbfucks" response. I've since come to learn that's a pretty counterproductive response, and that's the spirit in which my remarks were intended. (In fact, one of the people I wish would take it is one of my columnists, John McIntire, who also blogs.)

Honestly, I don't think Chris was referring to the blogosphere as a whole, and I don't see any call for you to defend it on that basis either. But since you feel obliged to do so, I'll say this: You might represent the blogosphere better by responding to posts that demonize two-thirds of the city, rather than taking a defensive crouch when someone critiques that attitude weeks later.

-- potter

Friday, November 09, 2007 9:29:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

BTW, I've been fired up (energized) for a long time about the landscape of Pgh politics / public life. That has little to do with elections. In a way, elections are like interruptions in our daily struggles. It has to do with living in this city and finding excellent solutions for my generation and that of my kids and their peers.

BTW2, getting 7,000 votes with $250 as a Libertarian was a bit of a rush. For those keeping score, that's 1/4 of the MD total -- well -- you do the math.

If you didn't notice, DeSantis was reported to have made more than $200K last year. It wasn't a 'big deal.' But you are talking money N@.

BTW3, I've put things on the table concerning ethics. Would wish others to do the same, including ESPN MNF.

Schultz, I didn't knock DeSantis at all. Not in the slightest.

BTW4, Weinroth's run for mayor in 2005 was his second race. He had run in 2001 against Peduto for city council. So, trust and understanding had been built throughout the years by J.W. to those who watch and know the players.

This was the first personal DeSantis campaign. Credit goes to MD for the row-office reform try and new idea factory efforts -- but I'll count that as hardly fractions of intros to voters.

Friday, November 09, 2007 9:31:00 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

RE: Improper electioneering.

I believe that the P-G and others were referring to Ravenstahl being at the polls himself. However, Ska posted a new photo of Yarone Zober handing out campaign lit inside the polling place. There is no way that that's legal.

See here for more.

Friday, November 09, 2007 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger EdHeath said...

You know, I know Schultz disagrees, but I honestly think that DeSantis could have made more headway with a different campaign. Besides starting early than September, I think if DeSantis had tried to project a more folksy image (a la George Bush or Bill Clinton) and had asked the state republicans to provide ads hammering at the Mayor’s inexperience and the city’s precarious finances, he might have gotten more votes from frightened democrats. DeSantis ran a high minded campaign, and presented solid outlines of fiscal policy, but clearly not much of it sank in. He should have stated clearly he could only ask the state legislature to change the residency requirement (that seemed to get press that probably hurt him), and he should have campaigned a lot more in the African American neighborhoods. Morton Coleman said, in the PG, “The campaign, which featured discussion of topics as divergent as ethics rules and pension funding, "was an educational process," Mr. Coleman said. "I don't think we've had that in a long time in a November mayoral campaign."” I don’t actually see this, I think any voters that might have been receptive to voting differently than usual focused more on personality, and Luke was the more attractive candidate (and a democrat, to boot). Maybe policy guys just should been allowed to run. They appeal to pundits and political groupees, and no one else. Policy guys think being folksy and appealing to emotion instead of explaining ideas is wrong. And Chris (Briem), I think you are right, Ravenstahl is much stronger now.

Friday, November 09, 2007 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to get the message out to the Progress Pittsburgh site that was keeping tabs on what blogs were supporting who, but the e-mail came back because of some snafu.

I wanted to get my position out there that the cynicism *I* felt was all around (see the Halloween costume post on my blog, I live two streets away from the City limits, so easy for me to say, right?

So on election day, when I was asked who I would vote had I been able to, do you know what I answered? All things considered, Luke Ravenstahl.

Friday, November 09, 2007 1:15:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

fyi. I think the deleted comment was just someone who posted the same thing twice accidentally. Nothing more than that.

Mark R. I stand corrected. There is no doubting your persistence. Sort of the energizer bunny of local politics. Any idea what you might run for next cycle? Sounds like you are taking up shop as sort of a shadow controller?

on YZ. I will leave this all be since either its a big deal or nothing and someone other than me should be commenting on it. but for Chris, you alleged corruption, I asked for details, you pointed me to LS's pictures in response . I don't think I misrepresented anything.

Friday, November 09, 2007 2:17:00 PM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

Potter said:

"Anonymous comments don't count as "online" interaction? I thought they were a key part of what made the blogosphere such a unique public forum."

This point is very well-taken. Also, it occurs to me, whoever is running I Luv Luke is guilty as sin.

I guess occasional airings of contempt have not bothered me because I admit a kernel of truth to the emotion; in the red/blue analysis, it is only natural that the blues would look down on the reds a little. I still surprised that vitriol from net commentary merited immediate post-election analysis -- especially considering A) most bloggers are ok about policing their own sites and chastising the most egregious offenses and B) my goodness, the reds do it to us TOO, if not WORSE, and how is it not a problem for THEM?

Friday, November 09, 2007 2:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, Potter. As long as we're playing the selective citation game...

...let's take a look at a few more passages from Char's post. I complimented the whole thing, yes, but I was especially pleased by this paragraph:

"Councilman Luke Ravenstahl’s ascendance to the mayoral throne was Pittsburgh’s very own 9/11. Both our major newspapers get it. Both stand united in realizing the horrific implications of an out-of-control Frat Boy running the city as it circles the event horizon of a black hole called ‘bankruptcy’."

And this one:

"The question is, will Mr. & Mrs. Average Pittsburgher get it? Will the myopic government worker who doesn’t understand his very job depends on tax dollars from the private sector get it? Will the mindless voter who gets ‘handed the slate’ be able to muster the wits to rebel against his own DNA corrupted by generations of same-party inbreeding? Will the unions finally understand that there is not one drop of blood left in any Pittsburgh turnips? Even if there was, will they finally admit the turnip-blood will never come from a boy speeding around town in his Batmobile, chasing after celebrities whilst admiring his own reflection?"

And the end of this one:

"They have instead chosen to retain their journalistic and editorial sanity and integrity, and for this they will have my eternal respect."

There's a hell of a lot more going on there than just "dumb yinzers coming under fire." And it's intellectually dishonest to suggest that those remarks, or any praise of them, somehow "demonize two-thirds of the city."

(And not just because two-thirds of Tuesday's voters are not two-thirds of the city, nor because it's a bit of a stretch to think that Char's blog, however beautifully and passionately written it is, really has an impact on the broad landscape of the electorate.)

What she wrote, even in the most negative and reductive passages, is true. A great many people like that -- not two-thirds of the city, but more than enough of them -- exist. And fail to think critically. Before, during, and after their vote.

We've met them. We've heard from them. And you have too.

Friday, November 09, 2007 2:30:00 PM  
Blogger Schultz said...

"Besides starting early than September, I think if DeSantis had tried to project a more folksy image (a la George Bush or Bill Clinton) and had asked the state republicans to provide ads hammering at the Mayor’s inexperience and the city’s precarious finances, he might have gotten more votes from frightened democrats."

So you say DeSantis should have tried to be someone who he was not? You yourself described him as a "technocrat" if I remember correctly. Being disengenuous and fake is all too common in politics these days, and I'm glad DeSantis didn't fall into that trap.

Even if he did project that image you mention, it WOULDN'T HAVE MATTERED. Damn Heath, don't you get it. A lot of people in Pittsburgh, and all over the country for that matter, will only vote for their party, in our case, that party was the Democratic Party.

Friday, November 09, 2007 2:40:00 PM  
Blogger Schultz said...

Briem - I heard reports of the bribery and cash being paid out to voters. I do not have any first hand proof so I guess it is hearsay until we get further evidence. The photos I have are of the cronies working the door telling people who to vote for.

Friday, November 09, 2007 2:45:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

point 1: Mayor Foerster wishes that logic was true. and yes, I know its more compicated than that.. but you can't say people will never pull that straight ticket lever if motivated not to. and back then, the 'machine' was clearly more influencial than now.

point 2: ok.

Friday, November 09, 2007 3:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chad: I'm bowing out after this, because life is too short. Bram asked for evidence of people posting "dumb yinzer" quotes, and I gave him one. I could have posted Char's whole post, but that would have made an already-tedious post even longer. I provided the URL instead (hardly the sign of someone trying to get away with something). I don't think that "selective citation" is a bad thing in such circumstances, and honestly, I think the charge is (like so much around these precincts lately) fairly trumped up. It's not like I quoted her out of context, or warped her statements to mean something the opposite of what she intended.

Others can decide for themselves whether the remarks quoted above demonize large swaths of the city. They read that way to me, certainly, but you're welcome to disagree -- or even to endorse those stereotypes if you wish. I agree that plenty of stupid people exist. Some no doubt supported Ravenstahl. A few of them may have blogs, or newspaper columns.

But my point remains: Posts that insult wide swaths of the electorate, in the crudest terms possible, probably don't help your cause. I'll bet you a round of beer that if the FOP had backed Luke, the burgosphere would have filled with denunciations of "knuckle-dragging cops." Instead, DeSantis got the nod and there was much rejoicing. And understandably so: DeSantis somehow found a way to connect with the FOP through a combination of sincere conviction and political canniness.

Perhaps trying to repeat that success is a better approach than, say, shitting all over those mindless, inbred voters you don't think you can reach. But hey, it's your choice.

And with that, I'm done. Good luck in your future efforts.

-- potter

Friday, November 09, 2007 3:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A DeSantis victory was possible--it happened in Indianapolis, where an unknown candidate with ZERO funding beat a two-term Democratic Mayor (largely on property taxes; the third rail of local government). Granted Indianapolis has less of a Democratic edge than Pittsburgh, but it still has a Democratic edge. Not only that, Republicans won a majority on the Metro Council too. Bizarre.

Friday, November 09, 2007 4:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(I should qualify that the "you" in that final part of my post was more of a universal "you," rather than a reference to Chad.) --potter

Friday, November 09, 2007 4:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correlation ... causality ... now I'M confused.

Spot on analysis, as usual. Good on ya, mate!

Saturday, November 10, 2007 5:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding how the ACDC works, from my little bit of experience, it's surprisingly organic. Things just happen--picnics, meetings, door knocking, casual conversations. Just showing up, like Woody Allen said, seems to work. Arnie Klein is a case in point. Judge material? Whatever, but he's always taking his swings and he almost connected this time. He'll be at the plate again next season, along with Mark R., who looks destined to win something, and, if he's really serious, MD will suit up again too.

Saturday, November 10, 2007 5:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading most of these posts I have one piece of advice: Don't drink and type.

Saturday, November 10, 2007 5:49:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Does that include the Fosters someone might have in front of them? ;-)

Saturday, November 10, 2007 7:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, that'd be a schooner of VB (Victoria Bitter), the local Iron City.

Saturday, November 10, 2007 3:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

I'm not sure what office, if any, I'll run for next. Thanks for asking.

A) I've got a few political and community projects in the works. B) I've got some homework (house rehabs) to handle. C) I need to get fit so I can swim in the river next summer -- and not need to tether a barge to my oldest son's legs just to keep up with him. D) Ron Paul calls! E) as to an ELECTION again, helping Ron Paul might be the ticket. F) Finally, fights with goofy school reform are at our doorstep too. We can't let Roosevelt close Schenley H.S. for lots of important reasons.

Sunday, November 11, 2007 9:09:00 PM  

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