Sunday, July 19, 2009

'young voter' still an oxymoron

Yeah, I know... broken record. Unfortunately just documenting the obvious again. Here is the age distribution of voters who showed up for the Democratic primary in the City of Pittsburgh in May. It's really only interesting considering this was the first major election following the fall presidential election. All the talk of a new paradigm of voter participation, particularly voter participation by youth.... you don't see much evidence of that here. This figure looks remarkably as it did in the past.

You can parse some rather pathological factoids out of that. There were 20% more voters age 80 and above than there were voters under 30.. not under 20, under 30. For every voter under 30 there were more than 5 voters over age 60.

The reasons are pretty straightforward. It's not just that we are an old region; a few other things contribute. Lack of in-migration over a long time means that the older folks who are here have been here for a relatively long time. Thus older residents here are far more likely to be voting here compared to places that have older folks who have recently arrived such as is the case for most retirement destinations. Then there is the fact that a disproportionate part of the city's young adults population is made up of students. Students are transient and busy and thus are only occasionally big voters. Add in that the date of the spring primary is usually after many local colleges and universities have graduated. It makes a big difference. Finally, the very fact that primary elections are usually the determinative election matters as well. Younger voters may make it out to general elections, especially during presidential cycles, but off-year primaries only exacerbates the age skewing.. It must add up to one of the oldest age demographics of voters in the nation for a major city or county. I'm sure there are small places that have even more extreme concentrations of elderly voters.

This is a bit more interesting, even if tells the same story. This is the conditional probability that a voter cast a ballot in the spring primary given that they voted in the fall general, again by age. This is just for folks registered here in both cycles and does not account for those who moved out since the fall.

Yes that is saying that even for the folks who actually voted in the fall, but are under say 25 or so... the probability that they voted in the spring primary here is under 10%. That's for folks who voted just a few months earlier. The actual percentage of folks in those age groups who voted overall is an even lower percentage. Various caveats to making that. If you really need to know let me know, but the big picture is pretty clear.


Anonymous MH said...

Why was Dowd paying so much attention to East End professionals (aside from being one himself)? For 2013:

Dowd: Keeping the kids off your lawn.

Sunday, July 19, 2009 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger n'at said...

Acklin's doing the same thing, I guess. Although I thought it saw him taking notes at a cafe on the southside this morning - or, maybe Andy Richter's in town...

The illustrations make perfect sense to me. The older generations have mined Pittsburgh for everything it's worth - and then some. Now they're pulling the pillars on their way out fueled by the policy that is set from the people *they've* elected.

//end mining analogy

We need a little more Rockabilly and a little less Lawrence Welk.

The fall '08 election results were an anomaly for the nation, yes? We can probably assert that the kids were casting votes for Obama or McCain, and unknowingly selecting given options for all other ballot issues: treasurer, attorney general, state reps, etc...

Sunday, July 19, 2009 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Hey, I still want to know what the local ratings are for the Lawrence Welk Show. If only Rob Owen read this blog.

Isn't Acklin's HQ on the South Side.. which would be a symbolically non-East End location... except that the South Side is an awful lot different from when I lived there 25 or so years ago.

Monday, July 20, 2009 12:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the hell's wrong with 96-year-olds nowadays?!

Monday, July 20, 2009 9:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Owen's too busy defending 'QED brass (see his Sunday column).

Monday, July 20, 2009 9:09:00 AM  
Anonymous DBR96A said...

Young people in general don't vote in anything other than presidential elections.

Next time you hear some young person complain about how Pittsburgh is "hostile to young people," just ask them if they've voted in any local primary elections, and if they either answer "no" or stutter and stammer, simply walk away without saying another word.

Monday, July 20, 2009 9:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Acklin isn't doing the same thing.

His campaign headquarters is on the South Side, he's already secured space to open a satellite office in Brookline, and his staffers say he's planning on opening at least three other campaign offices across the city.

His field team is canvassing all over the city. He's door-knocking all over the city. He may be facing long odds, but he's not following the DeSantis/Dowd East End playbook by any stretch.

Get the facts, n'at.

Monday, July 20, 2009 9:36:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

Somebody is going to read this and campaign on making it a felony to move a parking chair.

Monday, July 20, 2009 9:50:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I thought it was a felony to move a parking chair? Pretty dangerous to try it no matter.

Monday, July 20, 2009 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger n'at said...

Don't get too crazy now, perhaps a fifth class felony, MH.

Thanks for the tip Anon 9:36, good to know that someone believes the blue dogs are up for grabs. An office in Stanton Heights would be a nice bookend to Brookline, would it not?

Monday, July 20, 2009 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

To be honest, I don't really see many parking chairs in my neighborhood. Of course, if leave a car in front of somebody else's house for a couple of days, and you'll probably get a nasty note.

Monday, July 20, 2009 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The pie chart stats are interesting, but I don't find them particularly informative. I'd like to know P(voted in primary|age group = X), P(registered to vote|age group = X), and P(voted in primary|registered to vote & age group = X).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Next time you hear some young person complain about how Pittsburgh is 'hostile to young people,' just ask them if they've voted in any local primary elections, and if they either answer 'no' or stutter and stammer, simply walk away without saying another word."

I'm sympathetic to the sentiment, but what about young people who don't feel represented by the Democratic machine that runs Pittsburgh? They can hardly be blamed for skipping primaries that offer them no choices.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

"They can hardly be blamed for skipping primaries that offer them no choices."

I vote in primaries that offer no choice at all (i.e. the Republican ones). I'm afraid if I stop going, they will stop print ballots. Plus, it's fun to let the toddler hit the buttons and get dirty looks from the poll workers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 10:59:00 AM  

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