Saturday, December 31, 2005

Steel City Politics

I'm spending a few days in Pittsburgh over Christmas break and I was pleasantly surprised by the level of Democratic paraphernalia (an indicator, presumably, of the underlying political sentiment) still visible from the 2004 election. I walked probably a total of 14 miles around town over the course of 3 days and saw many, many bumper stickers for Kerry-Edwards (and other Democratic causes) and more than a few signs--by now well faded--in the windows of people's houses. After a while, I was keeping an eye out for these things, and I can't remember seeing a single "W '04" item anywhere (except maybe on the Pennsylvania Turnpike en route, but if I recall correctly, they were on cars with out-of-state plates). I did a double take when I saw a driver in Point Breeze sporting a "Joe Weinroth for Mayor" sticker.

I remember being in Philadelphia last winter and seeing even greater numbers of Kerry items, and it would have been all the stronger there in a county that voted 80% for Kerry (compared with Allegheny County's measly 57% landslide, though it was 74.5% within the City limits), and it was more recently at that point, as well. One of my favorite stickers I saw there was a takeoff on the series of European-country-code-style ovals, with a "K" replacing the "W."

Of course, Kerry won Pennsylvania, due in no small measure to his commanding majorities in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties. As was the case nationwide and also in 2000, urban areas were strongly Democratic and everywhere else was generally Republican territory.

Has there ever been a study done to compare frequency of bumper stickers for a given candidate and election results? A quick Google search suggests "no." Sounds like a project for my abundant free time in the new year.

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