So as the returns were finishing up last night it looked to me like the total turnout in the election was going to set a new all-time low for a contested primary here. At the very end the total ballots cast for mayor edged just above the number from 4 years ago. The thing is the election in 2009 was not expected to be very close and that seemed the explanation to a lot of us for the low turnout in that race. For the demography wonks, no the answer really is not population loss over last 4years. City population has mostly stabilized in recent years and even tomorrow I bet we get a headline of a small bit of population gain in the latest data to come out. So changes in total population is not the answer, but changes within the population for sure. I've pointed out the declining number of supervoters as am artifact of changing demographics in the city
. Still, close races almost always bring more folks to the polls. More parsing may answer who did, or did not show up yesterday.
But for the long term perspective, I know 24 years ago is ancient history to many but in 1989 110K folks voted in the primary for mayor. That is not a reflection of population loss. Total population loss in the city of Pittsburgh since 1989 is around -18%, but the decline in ballots between 1989 and 2013 primaries looks to be -59%. Big difference.
Here is the trend and note the 2007 race was completely uncontested. There was not a lot to motivate showing up to vote at all.