See no election, hear no election
Disagree? Consider that the headline political news next week is going to be for an election that will not take place until next year. Specter/Sestak or Senate? Also a vote next year. People's political neurons are already focused on next spring and this coming news cycle is only going to solidify that even more. For most folks the fact that there is an election in a few weeks is a curiosity at most. Those that even know that is.
There is a brief spasm all around over F. Dok Harris' in absentia showing during the G20. Not the greatest of moves for someone who at least tried to make the G20 a campaign issue. What I find a bit more curious is why someone even went to the effort of making this video. Potter says the video is likely a production of the Ravenstahl campaign. I'll trust his judgment on that, but I was just wondering what the motivation would be. Why do anything that only potentially raises the awareness of an opponent. At this point I figure the only stategy the LR campaign is working on is to keep anyone from realizing there are challengers out there at all. We are literally 5 weeks from the election. Strike that, 4 weeks and 4 days!!. I am guessing a majority of the voting age population in the city would literally be a bit surprised if they were told there is an election coming up.
How soon is the election? Monday is the last day to register to vote. That is this coming Monday. Merely hours from now as I type. I have not sensed much in the way of new voter registration campaigns going on. If that is correct then the electorate who will be voting is not much different from who it has been here in the past. Barring these last few hours, the registration phase is over.
Then there is Acklin who really must feel a sinking feeling all around post G20. Acklin is in a tough bind I figure. A sure sign of Acklin's lack of traction is the Trib's headline which described some de rigueur posturing as "Mayoral candidate adds to tall stack of campaign promises". Curious that Trib headline writing gnomes (which are rarely the reporters themselves I am told) took such a negative spin for that story. Acklin has put himself into a box. With a strategy that hinged on garnering support among the base of police and firefighters then what can he do post G20? Criticizing the mayor can't really be separated from attacking the police with regard to anything involving the protests and aftermath. Focusing on Downtown business just does buy you much when it comes to votes. I've pointed out not only how old the city's electorate is, but when you take into account students and other factors, only a small faction of city voters are in the labor force which means they really are not paying much attention to the lack of business Downtown for all of a few days in September. A similar argument goes with how the whole pension tempest played out. Acklin couldn't attack the mayor too much in that LR was on the same side as Joe King and all the municipal unions and especially all their retirees, a much larger voting block in and of themselves, then add in their families. Well financed and professionally managed as it is (or maybe it's because it is so well funded and managed?), the Acklin campaign must feel like they are trying to punch a cloud.
I know the Acklin folks believe they have, or had, commitments from some of the more Democratic leaning contituencies in town. That was certainly a selling point to potential funders early on to support his campaign. Yet if that support does not begin to manifest itself much more publicly pretty soon then what is the point? I suspect they are a bit in the position Bill P. was once in when he was convinced he had at least credible support going into an endorsement vote a couple years ago. It was ever so close in the end.
The best thing the Ackin campaign has going for it? If this is correct, then a recent KQV poll had him coming in third behind Harris and Ravenstahl. A very curious result. Judging from how well Mayor Desantis did in similar KQV polling, Ackin may indeed be a shoo in.
I know there is consternation for some over how the protests were handled and noise that it could impact the election. I just go back to my taxonomy on the (city of) Pittsburgh electorate. Those who are the least happiest with the police and might vent that unhappiness with LR are pretty much in the groups that were not going to vote for him no matter. So it shifts little. If anything I bet LR can't lose any votes he didn't lose before the start and shored up his support with some groups Acklin was counting on picking off. Harris' campaign has been harder to figure out, but I figure he will start with the AABL vote (again per my taxonomy) and debatable dents into a few other groups.
So the month out prediction is that conventional wisdom holds for now... Overall the results probably will not look much diferent than the Desantis-Ravenstahl race except with the two challengers splitting the votes Desantis got. Hard to peg the split on that. Compared to two years ago there will be some differences at the margin we can parse, but overall the result will not change. Probably a risker prediction is turnout, but it's going to be an awfully low turnout with no other headline race going on (quick name the judicial candidates seeking office?). Common wisdom is that low turnout hurts challengers. That may normally be the case, but I do think the conundrum facing the LR campaign is whether to campaign actively much at all. There is a risk when turnout is uber-low that you just don't know what may happen. So the question is whether LR decides to run any TV or other costly advertising at all. His victory over Desantis came without any meaningful TV or media spending at all though they did have a tsunami of mailings by the end. That may be the most substantive political debate over the next few weeks.