Long before anyone casts a vote, politicians must compete in a race for campaign contributions. And the need for hard cash means that while everybody gets a vote on Election Day, people in affluent communities can play a much larger role in determining who wins.
So it is with Pittsburgh's 2013 mayoral race, in which three candidates — Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, City Controller Mike Lamb and City Councilor Bill Peduto — raised more than $1 million in 2012. Where does that money come from? To find out, we looked at their annual finance reports, and totaled the donations from individual contributors, sorted by ZIP code.
Not surprisingly, Pittsburgh's tony East End neighborhoods are the largest source of funds, while neighborhoods like Beltzhoover and the West End are barely on the map. (Totals from Downtown's ZIP codes, meanwhile, are inflated: Executives with offices Downtown are often improperly identified solely by their business address.) But is it worrisome that a Westmoreland County ZIP code has contributed $13,000 ... as much as the city's entire South Hills? Or that four affluent bedroom communities — Fox Chapel, Gibsonia, Upper St. Clair and Mount Lebanon — each give more than any city neighborhood outside the East End? It's almost enough to make you wonder whom the system really answers to.