Friday, November 8, 2013

A case for the Centrist City?

Yesterday Next American City ran an article titled, No One Votes for Mayor Anymore.  The article cited an average of ~23% of registered voters showed up at the polls for the Mayoral elections in 12 Major US Cities compared with over 50% who showed up for the Presidential election just over a year ago.

But wait there's good news. In New Haven, CT voter turnout was very different. According to DATAHaven in New Haven voter turnout was at 41%.  The even better news is the political climate that contributed to the higher turn-out is repeatable...if we are honest with ourselves about what is happening in cities.  

In New Haven there was a Democratic candidate and an Independent candidate. Like many cities one party has controlled the political environment for most of our lifetimes. Many city's younger populations do not accept ALL of the values of the old blue party.  Though many lean left the bank accounts that the party is beholden to are sometimes in direct conflict with their values. There are also many that might be more likely to lean right but feel unrepresented by the collapsing Republican Party beholden to a bank account and a population that they can not relate to. In many cases its the fact that a bank account is involved at all that discourages so many from voting.

In the past two elections in New Haven has had a strong Independent candidate who leans left in their ideals but is not backed by the Democratic party.  Nor has that candidate set-out to make the traditional party alliances. The results have been two-fold:

1) A huge part of the growing City of New Haven suddenly gained representation in the election.
2) The entrenched party felt a real competitive threat.

With competition comes democracy and with more democracy comes the voters.  Both the official party and the unofficial party worked hard at the same metric: raising the number of voters. At the center of the Independent movement in New Haven was an unprecedented clean election campaign that put aside DC labor Unions, Suburban and City Contractors contributions for small donor local contributions. This rejection of money in politics is a growing theme at both the local and Federal level in a growing movement towards the Center away from the poles (polls) where the money is most influential.  

Charles Wheelan has made a case for a Centrist Party in the United States. The party would help loosen the political gridlock in Washington through a more 'rational' middle disenchanted by and not beholden to money.

As I look at the New Haven election in contrast to other cities I wonder if a case for an Urban Centrist Party might be made.  I will not go as far as Wheelan and create a manifesto but I am curious if others have had similar thoughts and if there is any movement in this direction in other parts of the Country. 

Is their an Urban Centrist movement growing in this country and should it be formalized?   


  1. The "41% turnout" was cited by a reporter in the New Haven Register.

    Just clarifying your post, as that figure did not come from DataHaven.

  2. Rate reported by CTSOTS is 29.2%
    Still much higher than 2011 (25%) or 2009 (18%)

  3. Thanks for the clarification. Pretty substantial difference. Wonder where the Reg got their stats from.