Will there be a fall election?
News around is that the Acklin for Mayor campaign kicks off today in Shadyside. It’s a better venue than the Pennsylvanian I guess, but still I wonder what gets into people’s head. Shadyside as a venue for a challenger in this race is only going to result in preaching to the choir. I don’t understand why challengers don’t start their campaigns with events in Esplen, Lincoln Place or Northview Heights. Many don’t even realize those places are city neighborhoods, neighborhoods filled with lots of supervoters. A hundred or even a thousand folks who show up in Shadyside are likely votes a challenger has no matter what. Showing up in neighborhoods that rarely see mayoral candidates could actually sway some votes. Make a statement and start a campaign in Fairywood. Also a city neighborhood!
Anyway, it’s a common discussion I hear of late as to whether these challengers have any chance at all. Certainly if both run in the fall there is no possibility whatsoever of an upset of any kind. Even with one main challenger it would be awfully difficult to defeat a nominated, and incumbent no less, Democrat for mayor. The question is does difficult mean impossible. Here is how I see city voting adding up. Some of this comes from semi-defensible data, some of it is quite honestly my educated guess. But if you had to break down the major voting patterns in a fall election in the city it goes like this.
The Registered Republicans – 20% of the vote
The thing about registered republicans in the city is that you have to be kind of hard core to remain registered as a Republican. You pretty much give up your right to vote in the primaries when most all city races are determined. This group will never vote for a D under almost any circumstance. The big mystery is whether they vote for an R under any circumstance or whether an Independent in one form or another will suffice.
The ABL crowd. – 15% of the vote
Of course the Republicans are sort of an ABL crowd, but in reality they want to support anyone who is not a D. This group I call the D’s who are pretty opposed to LR no matter whether he is running in the primary or in the general. I think if you take the 20% R vote out of the 37% Desantis got in the 2007 general you pretty much scope out this group. Since this is a mobile/younger crowd I will cut it down from 17% to 15% based on migration and fading memories, but I bet at least 15% is at least starting from a point of not voting for LR. You could argue over a couple points around that.
The AABL crowd – 5%
This gets tougher to pin a number on. But this is also where it at least starts to get interesting. The Almost ABL crowd I define as those Democrats who are generally inclined to against LR, but will never ever vote for a Republican. While I am pretty confident in the size of the first two groups, this group is hardest to pin down. How that 27% for Dowd in the primary is split between this groups and the ABL group is the question. If the ABL crowd is 15% in the fall, that equates to 20% in the primary. Net that from the 27% and you get 7%. Call it a range of 0-10%. Say 5% for a SWAG, but clearly with error bounds on either side of that. The big question for them is whether that 5% would consider voting for an Independent in the race even though they would normally not vote for an R.
The African American Vote – 30%
To be clear. The African American vote is consistently a D vote in general elections and you have to have a strong reason to think it will not be the case this fall. Many R candidates in recent years have received zero or virtually zero AA support. If that is the case this time around, then the result will be the same as previous results no matter. I think it’s kind of a myth that AA voters don’t turn out as much as others. Even if that is true in general, the fall shows they will come out to vote if they want to. So 25-30% of the vote depending on turnout.
The Democrats Uber Alles – 30%
Separate from the AA vote just for discussion, these are the remainder of the folks who either literally pull the D lever in general elections or vote pretty much the same as if they did. If the AA vote is more like 25% this could group may be more like 35. Where either falls in that range depends mostly on the scale of AA turnout which is more variable than turnout in this group.
Add it all up and what do you get? Just MHO again. To repeat, all of this all becomes a non-issue if there are multiple candidates in the race. Even if a third candidate gets 5% of the vote what is marginally conceivable as a close race becomes pretty near a mathematical impossibility. If you believe my math above which I am sure many will dispute. The Republican and ABL vote currently gets you to 35% no matter who is running. For sake of conjecture, if the AABL crowd is in play only because the challengers are not running as R’s, though that remains to be seen. So it’s not a given but for sake of argument that could get you to say 40%. That might be better than any challenger has come in memory, but it would still be a blowout by most criteria. Assuming the core non-Black Democratic vote is not going to budge much… that means the remaining 10% would have to come from that 30% of the electorate that are African American. A challenger who gets a third of the African American vote would at least make this a competitive race. The problem is that while a third sounds like an attainable number for a challenger, even one that loses… it has most often been the case that the AA vote in a general election votes 95% or more one way or another. How that could play out I leave for others to conjecture for now.
The uber-cynical side wonders if the multiple candidates jumping into the fall race are really there to help ensure a LR win. I don’t doubt that Harris and Acklin both have sincere desires to be mayor. Where you see my cynicism play out is in their support. It will be interesting to see where their big money comes from. I all but guarantee you that if they both remain in the race someone supporting LR will make sure some resources flow to whomever appears the weakest of the other candidates to ensure a greater split among their potential votes.
Some things I don’t even try to quantify in because I just can’t. Parsing out the split within the Republican party in town here could have an impact. In some ways this is the last bastion of moderate Republicans which don’t get along with more conservative R’s. That lack of unity could play out in turnout or organized support for any one candidate. It seems thus far that Acklin is getting the de facto R support. Another factor is the Democratic version of party infighting. I think some folks who might support either Acklin or Harris if that vote were held in a vacuum are nonetheless threatened either of them would displace their preferred candidates. So some (I didn’t say all ok?, I don’t even say most, but they are clearly some out there) hard core Dowdites or Pedutoheads would prefer a LR victory at the end of the day even though they would never admit it in public. Cynical? You bet, but if you are not cynical analyzing politics you are not analyzing politics. How big a factor that is or could be I just can’t begin to put a number on. If it adds to splitting the votes among challengers it could be a big factor.
Finally the complete mystery is the Franco factor. Does it impact the lever-pullers in any way at all. Even a couple percentage points among the Democrats Uber Alles group above would mean less is needed to be gained elsewhere. Whether even a couple points is conceivable I really don’t know. I need to go back and look at the Swann governor results a little more for clues. My guess is that I really doubt there is much pure ‘Steeler’ factor, but Franco isn’t Lynn Swann at least in how involved he has remained in local things. How many years has Franco been the public face of LIHEAP around town? I’d love to see any polling on how much folks associate him with that program. All in it’s a long way from the fall.