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Election didn’t excite voters

Published: Fri, November 8, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)

On the side

Garrison fundraiser: U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is having a fundraiser today in Columbus for Jennifer Garrison of Marietta, who is running in the 2014 Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District seat. The event, outside the congressional district, is to raise much-needed money for what will likely be an expensive race.

The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call election race ratings has the 6th District “leaning Republican.” The seat is held by two-term incumbent Bill Johnson, a Republican from Marietta.

Stu Rothenberg, publisher of the report and an expert political handicapper, posted an article earlier this week on Roll Call’s website about Garrison’s position on same-sex marriage. Rotherberg wrote that Garrison was asked about her “evolution on gay marriage” and didn’t directly answer the question during a recent interview with Roll Call. He called her answer an “odd response” while pointing out she told me in mid-July that she supports gay marriage.

Turnout for this past election was even worse than the low — and obviously over-optimistic — predictions from directors at boards of elections in the Mahoning Valley.

There wasn’t much going on in Trumbull County, which had 24.5 percent of registered voters cast ballots, or Columbiana County with 28.1 percent turnout.

There were competitive races in townships and cities in Mahoning County, but only 29.3 percent of those registered bothered to vote.

This election had the lowest turnout since 2007.

City turnout

In Youngstown, where there were races for mayor, city council president, the school board, and two charter amendments — one that called for fracking to be banned and the other to eliminate the city’s park and recreation commission — turnout was below the county number.

This isn’t a new problem. Youngstown’s turnout percentage for years has been typically below the county’s.

What that means is less political clout for the city — which reflects on the county — on the national level.

And the poor turnout was during an election with a lot at stake.

Only 10,651 of the city’s 42,864 registered voters voted in the mayor’s race. That’s only 24.8 percent.

As has been the case for years when there is a credible white candidate and a credible black candidate in a citywide race the predominately white wards vote for the white candidate and the predominately black wards vote for the black candidate.

Democrat John McNally IV, who is white, did incredibly well in the 4th Ward, which is not only a predominately white area on the city’s West Side, but also one with a lot of voters.

DeMaine Kitchen, who is black and ran as an independent, did great in the predominately black 1st Ward and was solid in the 6th, but those two wards have the least number of registered voters among the seven wards and had the two lowest turnouts for this election.

(Read my Sunday article to get an analysis of a ward-by-ward breakdown for this race.)

Despite McNally’s strong showing among white voters and Kitchen’s among black voters, McNally won by 11.46 percentage points. In raw numbers, we’re only talking about 1,221 votes.

What’s interesting is there wasn’t a drop-off in the other Youngstown ballot items: 10,555 voted in the city council president race, 10,521 for the park and recreation issue, and 10,506 for the anti-fracking issue, even though the latter’s language took up about a page and a half of ballot space.

So why such low numbers in Youngstown?

Population loss

The city’s continuing population loss obviously drives down the total number of voters. Among those who are left, there are more people living in poverty and/or transient who aren’t interested in voting.

There are a lot of people who register to vote because it’s relatively easy, but don’t understand it’s not that challenging to actually vote. You don’t even have to leave your house.

Because of various controversies, investigations, over-the-top racial claims and conspiracy theories by some in the black community, and even one mayoral candidate in jail, some voters decided to stay at home.


1formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Once again, David, I must ask you this question. Are you 12 years old, recently moved to this area, or just naive?

Many people fail to vote in this area because their vote does not matter after 50 years of Democratic rule, corruption, and political tradeoffs. No matter who wins an election, nothing really changes. Sometimes local area election ballots resemble those that were used in the Soviet Union with so many "unopposed" candidates.

Long-time residents understand that this area is run by a who-you-know attitude that often precludes reasonable qualifications for filling a government position (including YSU). The Hanni's, Hagan's, Cafaro's, and unions are just the tip of the political power iceberg in this area that puppeteer's local politicians.

Yes, free elections are a precious right that people often take for granted. But except for the hard core Democratic machine, I believe that a lot of people think that local elections between the same old people are not really relevant to their lives (e.g., Michele Lepore Hagan running for her hubby's rep seat). They're just trying to survive and are tired of the same old crap.

It's an old saying but still true. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unfortunately, after over 50 years, that certainly rings true to many voters in the Mahoning Valley.

You've got to get out more, David.

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2allany2525(13 comments)posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago

So, if people are so sick of "50years of Democratic rule" In Youngstown, why don't they vote Republican?

OHHHH...WAIT.....that would require the Republican party to actually come up with a candidate with a platform and views that people would VOTE FOR.

Are there no republicans in the city of Youngstown? DUHHHHHHH....


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3UticaShale(854 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

I don't know it excited us Frackers, we gave the socialist a total smackdown as they tried to screw the mineral rights of the poor in Youngstown.

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4Kernaloftruth(86 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

Allany, even when the Republican Party has put up legitimate candidates, people vote (D). Their platform could be lucid and well thought out, but that never has really mattered a whole lot around here. If you think you can do better, stop running your mouth and go ahead and give it a try. More power to you.

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5gdog4766(1495 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

Rescumlicans are in favor of low paying, no benefits, no workers rights jobs that give the employer the ability to hire and fire at will. Tax breaks for companies that move overseas, put US workers on public doles when they close, no tariffs on the goods they produce overseas. No public education, no health care. You slimy rescumlicans love to say get a job, but have no solutions for the fact that there aren't any due to your slimy parties actions. Oh wait we can join the military to fight the two wars you scumbags got us involved in. Sorry, yeah you filth have done a lot.

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6Fontana(18 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

Very simple, actually. Except for a mere 10,651 people in Youngstown, everyone else is lazy, apathetic, or just plain morons. It's not about power plays or political influence. It's nothing more than the fact that the city now is largely uneducated and/or retirees on fixed incomes. The last of the workers left town when the courts outlawed the residency requirement for public workers.

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