Monday, June 29, 2009

The McCullough/Acklin Race

I had this huge rant on just how screwey this whole situation with County Councilman Chuck McCullough is... but I thought the better of it. It's not worth repeating since I typed most of it before and before that even. The one key thing that really gets me is just bizarrely quiet folks are about the situation. For alleged behavior half as egregious you would normally have politicians on both sides speaking out. The utter silence is just plain odd. Remember, this is probably the guy I was pretty sure had the Republican's best shot at being elected County Executive some day. Think about that some.

But the thing about McCullough is again how he got elected despite having 'dropped out' of the race and against an opponent who had a lot of political support in town. Jim Roddey and others would regularly talk up Acklin in public and in the media heading into that race. Kevin even had the (potentially counterproductive I admit) Post-Gazette endorsement for the race. All the charges against McCullough were front and center in th enews heading into election day in the spring of 2007 ... and yet he won despite all of that .... by a decent margin no less.

So how did he do that? Below is a somewhat quick and dirty map of the results between Acklin and McCullough in the 2007 Republican Primary for the County Council at Large seat. It's potentially one of those maps that can be over interpreted. When I first made it up I ran into a problem quickly that I couldn't come up with a percentage of votes for either candidate because in a whole lot of voting districts there were literally no Republicans. Even in the districts where there were some Republicans, a lot had total votes cast in this race of under 10 ballots or less. So a district might be shaded one way, but there is a big discepancy in the number of votes it represents. So the first thing I did was to arbitrarily shade out the districts with 5 or fewer total votes cast in this race. You will see the swaths of the city and a few other places in the Mon Valley where I have shaded grey. Again grey here means total votes cast in the Republican primary were under 5, as in the digits of one hand. Lots of the areas I left shaded don't have much more than 5 votes.. But I picked 5 arbitrarily as a cutoff.

Note also that I couldn't quite figure out what would be color-neutral shading. No matter what I tried there was some color-symbolism. So here the red and greed are arbitrary, not intended to mean anything else.

Oh yeah, the map:

What's it mean? As some have explained to me the general explanation for McCullough's victory was his suburban residence. Municipality of record is shown on the ballot in this race so it was McCullough (Upper St. Clair) vs. Acklin (Pittsburgh). The map bears that out pretty much. Acklin's support was mostly in the city. If you break out the numbers.


City 977 2,307

Outside City 25,514 17,865


City 29.5% 69.7%

Outside City 58.5% 41.0%

So what jumps out is that Acklin won the city, but the city just wasn't a factor in that race. Note how few Republicans voted in the primary within the city. All of 7% of the Republicans votes in this race came from within the City proper. Granted for primaries like these, city R's may not have a lot of incentive to come out and vote, so you don't want to infer too much about the number of votes that may represent in a general election... but still.


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