Analysis | BLOGH: City Paper's Blog |
Friday, July 14, 2017

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 2:52 PM

click to enlarge CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
CP photo by Ryan Deto
On July 12, a group of left-leaning protesters rallied outside of U.S. Congressman Keith Rothfus’ (R-Sewickley) office in Ross Township. They were some 15 members strong, and they hooted and hollered for an hour, expressing displeasure with their representative for failing to hold a town hall and his support of the Republicans’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We are here to keep the momentum going and show how [Rothfus] is not representing us,” said Michelle Raab of PA 12 Progressives, the group that organized the protest.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 4:48 PM

click to enlarge Latin American folk-dance group Latina Productions at Beechview’s Cinco de Mayo festival in 2016 - CP PHOTO BY LUKE THOR TRAVIS
CP photo by Luke Thor Travis
Latin American folk-dance group Latina Productions at Beechview’s Cinco de Mayo festival in 2016
Without an influx of international migration to the Pittsburgh metro area, the region would have lost 36,580 residents since 2010. This would have been far and away the largest population decline of any large U.S. metro area over that time span. Luckily, enough people came across borders to the Steel City, drastically cutting into the figure, and stemming some the region’s population decline. (The Pittsburgh region has still lost 14,000 residents since 2010, the second most of major metro areas, behind Cleveland.)

According to U.S. Census figures, from 2010 to 2016, the Pittsburgh area gained 22,588 residents from international migration, which is defined as migration by the foreign-born, Puerto Ricans and native-born Americans living overseas.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Posted By on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 5:29 PM

click to enlarge President Donald Trump (left) and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman (right) - WHITE HOUSE PRESS PHOTO/CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
White House press photo/CP photo by Ryan Deto
President Donald Trump (left) and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman (right)
On June 1, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. was leaving the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, an international agreement to reduce global carbon emissions. This was already enough to throw progressives into a tizzy, but when Trump said in his speech that “I was elected to serve the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” many Pittsburgh Democrats, and other prominent liberals across the country, lost their collective shit.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto pointed out that Pittsburgh voters chose Hillary Clinton, with her receiving 80 percent of the city’s vote, and he later spoke to multiple cable-TV news outlets about how the city has been working for decades to clean up the environment and shed its polluted Rust Belt reputation. And many stories during the national news cycle over the last 24 hours have discussed how wrong Trump was in using Pittsburgh to justify leaving the Paris agreement.

But, according to Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who has been campaigning for regional Democrats since last year, progressives shouldn’t be so shocked. He believes Trump isn’t actually focused on ruining the environment and points out that the rules of the Paris agreement are voluntary and wouldn’t have gone into effect until 2020. Fetterman believes Trump’s announcement is a campaign strategy.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 2:45 PM

click to enlarge ALLEGHENY COUNTY ELECTION IMAGE
Allegheny County election image
By now you are probably aware that Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto effectively won re-election by a landslide in the May 16 primary. (Peduto faces no Republican challenger in November.) The mayor received just under 69 percent of the vote, defeating his next closest opponent, Rev. John Welch, by 51 percentage points. Pittsburgh City Councilor Darlene Harris (D-North Side) finished third with 13 percent of the vote.

With Peduto’s re-election hogging the headlines, City Paper thought it would offer you some other takeaways that you might have missed:

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 12:53 PM

click to enlarge President Donald Trump - WHITE HOUSE PRESS PHOTO
White House press photo
President Donald Trump
When Franklin & Marshall College released its Pennsylvania political poll on May 11, President Donald Trump must have felt relieved. Although many polls nationally show Trump maintaining a low approval rating and, in some cases, even losing support, the Pennsylvania poll showed Trump gaining 5 percentage points from 32 percent approval in February to 37 percent in May. And 60 percent of Southwestern Pennsylvania voters (outside of Allegheny County) approve of the president.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 12:16 PM

click to enlarge Dowtown Pittsburgh
Dowtown Pittsburgh
In April, Philadelphia Magazine profiled Pittsburgh and contemplated if and how Pittsburgh could surpass Philly as Pennsylvania's No. 1 city. The article had all the elite economic buzzwords, like “innovation” and “tech,” and made many substantial points about Pittsburgh’s prowess in the field of robotics and driverless cars. However, the story never mentioned words like “equal,” “equitable” or “inclusion.”

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 4:03 PM

click to enlarge Pennsylvania Attorney General-elect Josh Shapiro - IMAGE COURTESY OF CAMPAIGN
Image courtesy of campaign
Pennsylvania Attorney General-elect Josh Shapiro
This Election Day, Pennsylvania turned red for the first time since 1988. President-elect Donald Trump won the state by 49,000 votes and Senator Pat Toomey won re-election by 92,000 votes. Toomey and Trump differed on trade, but both candidates pushed an anti-immigrant, pro-police campaign. It seemed a clear statement that Pennsylvanians, particularly in rural counties, want the Republican party in charge of their future.

So how in the world did Democrat Josh Shapiro, arguably running on the most progressive principles of any Pennsylvania candidate, win the state’s attorney-general election?

John Hanley, a political-science professor at Duquesne University, believes that most Pennsylvanians weren’t very aware of the candidates for non-national seats like state attorney general, and thus stuck more to their partisan allegiances.

“When you look at this set of election results, take the top of the ballot and separate from the rest,” says Hanley. “Most people don't know who these people are, so most people rely on the standard partisan bias.”

So having almost one million more Democrats registered in Pennsylvania than Republicans helped Shapiro and fellow Democrats Eugene DePasquale (state auditor general) and Joseph Torsella (state treasurer) secure victories by surprisingly similar margins, says Hanley.

But G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, in Lancaster, Pa., thinks it was a concentrated effort by the Philadelphia suburbs that secured Shapiro his victory.

“The [Democrats] won all three statewide row-office elections, largely because of more ticket-splitting in the Philly 'burbs,” wrote Madonna in an email to Pittsburgh City Paper. “Shapiro ran many TV commercials there which certainly helped him. [And those commercials] did not focus on a liberal agenda.”

Shapiro on his campaign website championed progressive policies like LGBT rights, prosecuting frackers who pollute, and standing up to Wall Street, but his commercials mostly concentrated on the state’s opioid epidemic and support from the police. And when it came down to it, Madonna says, Shapiro might just have been a better campaigner than his opponent, Republican John Rafferty.

“The Republicans did very little by comparison,” wrote Madonna. “Shapiro was more aggressive campaigning, going all over the state.”

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 3:47 PM

click to enlarge Allegheny County Seal - IMAGE COURTESY OF WWW.ALLEGHENYCOUNTY.US
Image courtesy of www.alleghenycounty.us
Allegheny County Seal
Allegheny County did its part for the Democrats. In last week's presidential election, Southwestern Pennsylvania's largest county increased its Democratic turnout from 2012 by 11,000 voters and shrunk its Republican turnout by 5,000.

But, Philadelphia helped to screw them over. The state’s largest county decreased its 2012 Democratic turnout by 26,000 and increased its Republican turnout by 9,000. Our 16,000 Democratic voter net gain was easily wiped out by Philly’s 35,000 net loss.

Philadelphia even contrasted its own suburbs. Its suburban counties (Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester), had a net gain of 54,000 Democratic voters compared to the 2012 election.

But Philly can’t take all the blame for Pennsylvania turning red for the first time since 1988, since even if the City of Brotherly Love matched its 2012 Democratic voting levels, the state still would have come up 30,000 votes short of a Hillary Clinton victory.

And while Allegheny County increased their Dem voters, (an impressive feat considering the county population has stayed the same since 2012), the progressives in the Steel City had little impact in convincing its surrounding counties that Democratic causes are in their best interest.

Beaver, Washington, and Westmoreland became radically more Republican in the 2016 election, helping President-elect Donald Trump gain the edge he needed to secure Pennsylvania. Those three counties gave a 38,000 net voting edge to Republicans compared to 2012. The Pittsburgh progressives are growing, but they might just be making their bubble more impenetrable, not expanding it to circumvent the Southwestern Pennsylvania region.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 3:43 PM

click to enlarge Donald Trump during a Sept. 13 campaign stop in Aston, Pa. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL VADON
Photo by Michael Vadon
Donald Trump during a Sept. 13 campaign stop in Aston, Pa.
Donald Trump came to Pittsburgh Thu., Sept. 22, to talk energy policy at the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Shale Insight Conference and Pittsburgh City Paper brought you a live blog from every moment of the protests outside. 

Later that day, we noticed that an anonymous commenter on the blog left this note to us:

“This is ridiculous. The man gave a speech that was more important than the insignificant protesters. You're story should be focused on the fine policies he presented today!”

While we did watch the live stream, you are right, “unnamed angry person.” So our staff decided to take a look at Trump's "fine" speech, particularly the portions about natural gas. To be honest, we're not so fine with it.

According to press reports, his talk was a lot of noise made to reassure the industry that he’s on its side. But even leaving aside the fact that a continued reliance on natural gas would be a climate disaster, his promised fixes were as ridiculous as his premise.

First, Trump promised to boost production of both coal and natural gas. That’s effectively impossible, given that the rise in gas production in the fracking era is the main cause of the decline in coal production.

Trump’s vow to deregulate gas production suggests that the industry is currently hamstrung — unable to produce. Yet the reason gas prices continue hovering near an historic low is that it’s so easy to drill that there’s a gas glut. It’s hard to see how stripping rules protecting the environment, and the communities in which drilling operations and pipelines operate, would help when from the industry’s perspective there is too much gas already (and when, in fact, the country is now the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas). Moreover, most gas regulations are enacted not by the federal government, but at the state level, something over which a Trump administration would have no control.

Then there’s the assumption that all that gas is going to revive American manufacturing — yesterday, Trump singled out the steel industry for rebirth. Cheap natural gas has helped manufacturers here. But there’s plentiful evidence that the gas industry is more interested in lucrative overseas markets, where the price is higher, than in using their product to “make America great again,” unless by “America” you mean shareholders, and by “great” you mean “richer.”



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Friday, August 26, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 12:51 PM

We’ve all seen the incredibly popular hashtags on Twitter, hand-made posters and billboards this political season: #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary. When critics of either nominee post something on social media, these two phrases almost always accompany them. For the most part, they make sense. Voters are making a statement against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton ever becoming president.

And given the popularity of these hashtags, they have morphed and been applied to other races on the political ladder, including Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race. Tweets criticizing the campaign of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) sometimes have an attached “#NeverToomey” hashtag.

But, Toomey is an incumbent and has been one of the state’s senators for about six years; “never” doesn't really apply. And this phenomenon is not unique to Toomey; #NeverRubio, #NeverAyotte and even #NeverMcCain have been used to reference races involving incumbent senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). (McCain’s hashtag is the oddest, given he has served as Arizona’s senator for almost 20 years and rose to national prominence when he ran for president in 2008.) Maybe it should be #NeverAgain or #Foolmeonceshameonyoufoolmetwiceshameonme.

Even so, these “never” hashtags seem to be growing in popularity among senate races. There have been more than a dozen uses of #NeverToomey and more than 100 uses of #NeverMcCain this month on Twitter. But why, given that these hashtags are logically inaccurate?

A study from the Pew Research Center hints at a possible answer: Social media is the most effective online tool to inform potential voters. According to the study, 24 percent of adults look at social media to find out new information on the campaigns of Clinton and Trump. Only 10 and 9 percent look to campaign websites and emails, respectively.

The “never” hashtags for senate races involving incumbents also overwhelmingly apply to Republicans. Among battleground states, the only incumbent Democrat facing re-election is Michael Bennet of Colorado. As of Aug. 26, there have only been three instances of #NeverBennet on Twitter compared to the thousands that have been applied to Republican incumbent senators in battleground states.

Another Pew study offers a possible explanation for this partisan disparity. During this year’s primary elections, millennial voters in the Democratic party found news about candidates via social media 74 percent of the time. For their young Republican counterparts, it was only 50 percent of the time.

For the Pennsylvania senate race, #NeverToomey has been used about 50 times on Twitter, compared to #NeverMcGinty only twice, for Toomey’s Democratic opponent Katie McGinty.

And the strategy may be working. According to rollcall.com, a couple of senate races have shifted in favor of the Democrats, including Pennsylvania's. And the report currently indicates Democrats will regain the seats necessary to gain a majority in the Senate come 2017.

Regardless, applying logic to the #Never movement may be a fool’s game. The hashtag #NeverObama has thousands of appearances on Twitter and Facebook. The 22nd Amendment of the Constitution bars President Barack Obama from running for president again. Obama could potentially run for a U.S. House or Senate seat, but a president hasn’t successfully done this since Andrew Johnson became a Tennessee senator is 1874 (15 years after Johnson’s impeachment, oddly).

So congratulations to the Obama haters, come Jan. 20, 2017,  #NeverObama will become a reality. 

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