Allegheny County voters were in a pox-on-all-your-houses mood in Tuesday’s primary elections. Only 20 percent of Republican and 23 percent of Democrat voters showed up to cast ballots. Pre-election predictions by the elections bureau had estimated a 28 percent turnout.
What happened? Clearly, voters were not captivated by the candidates or were perhaps displaying an overall discontent with politicians and government. Does that augur well or poorly for the next few years and does it foretell anything about the November turnout?
Time will tell of course but it cannot be a good sign when the minority, out of power party can only get 20 percent of its registered voters to the polls. How can it hope to overcome a nearly 5 to 2 registration deficit when only a fifth of its voters are excited enough to vote in the primary?
And what does it tell us about the hotly contested majority party race for Chief Executive when only 23 percent of its voters showed up? Voter apathy? Voter disgust? Or was it more a view that no matter which candidate won, the County government would be run by people who reflect the opinions of the party’s non-voters?
Overall and for whatever reasons, Tuesday was not a great day for representative government.