A debate I get caught up in at this point in most all election cycles is over whether 'young people' are going to make a difference in the upcoming election. Whatever election it is at the time. The idea that 'this election' is different always pops up. The argument is that there is some big surge in youth registration or enthusiasm which will translate into voter turnout. It is rarely even remotely true. People have been getting mad at me ever since I once asked if Young Voter is an oxymoron?
With the possible exception of the overinterpreted 2008 general election, there has been little variation in the story for all local elections, and certainly not in any local primary in recent memory.
So will this election coming up prove the exception? If so, the first place you would expect to see evidence is in new voter registrations. Looking at the state's voter registration data
, here is what I see for new Democratic party registrations by week since the beginning of the year. Note that the total number of registration is much higher than this time series, but the majority of new registrations are without party affiliation, likely because many new registrations happen as part of motor voter or other administrative procedures, not because someone is going out of their way to register to vote. But for Allegheny County the official counts right now are as follows:
Add it up if you like. Since January there have been a total of 2,996 new Democratic Party registrations in all of Allegheny County. That's it. IF they were all in the city of Pittsburgh and IF all of them vote next month, the new registrations will likely be 5-6% of all votes expected to be cast in the upcoming mayoral race in the City of Pittsburgh. More likely half or less of all those new registrations are in the city proper and assuming a quarter of them show up to vote then new registrations add up to 3-400 votes, so back of the envelope let's say maybe 0.7% of all votes expected to be cast. Assume the new registrants vote heavily for one candidate over others... say 75-25. It means the impact on the result is maybe a 0.35% swing.
Maybe I am underestimating? The registration deadline was Monday. Possibly a few last minute new registrations will show up in the data and push those numbers higher, but by how much?