It’s mayoral primary season! Which, for the less civic minded of you (and, okay, some of us) begs the question, Who actually votes in those things? The answer: not young people. In Seattle’s 2009 primary, just under 10 percent of voters were between the ages of 18 and 35, while a full third were 65 and older.

So if you’re handicapping this election’s nine candidates, that fact greatly favors Peter Steinbrueck, he of the cranky, slow-change platform that appeals to the why-can’t-things-stay-the-same-forever crowd—which, if we’re being honest, tends to skew older. In fact, Steinbrueck may not have as much money as his rivals (in June, Mayor McGinn was outpacing him 2 to 1), but a May SurveyUSA poll showed Steinbrueck leading among older voters, with 21 percent of that pool. All of that to say this: His better--financed rivals face a dilemma. They can target likely primary voters already in Steinbreuck’s camp (risky in the long term) or mobilize their core constituencies, who are less inclined to vote in the primary (risky in the short term).

See? Primaries are interesting.

 

Published: August 2013

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