We’re going to spend a lot of time tracking and forecasting the Pittsburgh Democratic Mayoral Primary this spring. Why you ask? Because there’s huge money in it? Because the entire world will be watching? No. Of course not.

We’re doing it because we know that localized polling is getting harder and harder to do. Put simply, Nate Silver won’t have access to data on the Pittsburgh Mayoral race like he did in the 2012 Presidential. If we can prove that our technology works at a local level, that would be pretty cool. And, in the meantime, hopefully we can give the campaigns a little free insight.

We thought we would start by analyzing the profiles of voters in the Pittsburgh primary. We looked at a hypothetical head-to-head race between current Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and City Councilman Bill Peduto (These data were collected from December 30 through January 16, the day before Michael Lamb officially entered the race. Our next wave of research will naturally include Mr. Lamb).

The purpose of this analysis was NOT to forecast the election outcome. It’s too early, given that new people are still entering the race. All we will say right now is that a hypothetical two-way race between Ravenstahl and Peduto would be close, within single-digit percentage points if the election was held today. There’s also still a large Undecided group, about 19% of voters.

Our goal in this research was to identify the characteristics that distinguished a likely Ravenstahl voter from a likely Peduto one. We looked at demographics first and then hundreds of other lifestyle, shopping, media consumption, and other attributes to uncover the most predictive ones. This first wave included 1,651 registered Democratic voters who live in the City of Pittsburgh. Here’s what we found:


Support splits down the middle by gender, with little difference between men and women. We surfaced the first correlations when we analyzed age. Ravenstahl has a clear advantage among voters over age 65 and, oddly, sees strong support among those aged 30 to 34. Peduto, meanwhile, leads handily among respondents under age 30 and has a slight advantage among those aged 35 to 44.

Black voters are 20% more likely to vote for Ravenstahl but are also significantly more likely than non-Blacks to be undecided. Peduto leads among Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish voters but Ravenstahl makes up for that with a huge advantage among people described as “Christian – Other.”

Education-level is a big dividing point in the race. People with college degrees are almost twice as likely to vote for Peduto. Those with advanced degrees are 71% more likely to vote for Peduto. Conversely, people with a High School or GED-level education are 2.3X more likely to support Ravenstahl. Those with some college but no degree are 72% more likely to support the current Mayor. Similarly, Peduto sees his highest support among upper income households. Ravenstahl does best with middle and lower-middle-income households.

From an occupational standpoint, Peduto leads by 40% among people in Professional/Managerial jobs and by 4.5X among people in Operations and Sales. People in the service industry are 2 1/2 times more likely to support Ravenstahl. Also, Retirees are 20% more likely and Home Makers a whopping 4X more likely to support Ravenstahl. The ever-important group of “Craftsmen and Laborers” is split dead even, as are people in computer or technical fields.


We track about 40 national and local issues through our polling, which we could then cross against our Ravenstahl vs. Peduto question. This could give each candidate some insight into their strongest campaign arguments. Take public education for example. Voters who are the most concerned with the state of public education support Peduto by a wide margin. Those who are less concerned about public education support Ravenstahl by an even wider margin.

Energy voters, meanwhile, those most concerned about energy and gas prices, are most likely to support Ravenstahl. Peduto wins among those who are the least concerned about energy and gas prices.

Running down the notable issues in our system: Ravenstahl supporters are more concerned about health care, crime and violence, and bullying in schools. Peduto supporters are more concerned about government spending, water/air quality, and income inequality Undecided voters are more concerned about income inequality, public education, health care, government spending, and high taxes.

When looking at the economy, as expected, those with the most optimistic view support the incumbent. Peduto has 15% greater support among people who expect a worsening job market in the next 6 months and 2X higher support among people who view the current local economy as “Poor.” Those who view the economy as strong support Ravenstahl by more then 2 to 1, while those view it as average are 20% more likely to support the current Mayor.


Next we looked at the type of media consumed by supporters of the two candidates. For example, people who watch KDKA morning news are 20% more likely to support Peduto. Ravenstahl leads handily among those who watch WTAE (60% more) or WPXI (73%) for their morning news. People who don’t watch morning local news are twice as likely to support Peduto. If they’re looking to buy TV time in the morning, they should buy on WPXI where we saw the largest percentage of undecided voters.

When asked about where they get the majority of their news, voters who choose print newspapers (especially the Post-Gazette) are 2.3 times more likely to support Peduto. People who get the majority of their news from TV or Radio are 60% more likely to support Ravenstahl. People who prefer the Internet for their news are 30% more likely to support Peduto but also 2X more likely to be Undecided.

Among local radio stations, Ravenstahl leads by 40% among those who list KDKA 1020 as their favorite and also leads among listeners of WLTJ, WWSW (94.5FM), and huge among the country listeners of WDSY. People who prefer WDVE, Bob FM, and WPGB are more likely to vote for Peduto. Also, people who listen to NO local radio are 4X more likely to support Peduto.

Sports fans in the city are surprisingly split. The most avid Steelers fans are most likely to support Peduto, while avid Pirates fans are almost 3 times more likely to also support him. Meanwhile, the most avid Penguins fans are more than 40% more likely to support Ravenstahl.

One last point: People who regularly read entertainment/celebrity blogs like PerezHilton.com or TMZ are much more likely to support Ravenstahl. Meanwhile, people who read local Pittsburgh blogs regularly are 3X more likely to support Peduto.


Peduto clearly has the more technology-savvy support base. Smart-phone users are 30% more likely to support Peduto and he leads by more than 3X among people who use Twitter. The only parity can be found on Facebook, where support is largely split among the members and non-members of the social network.

When it comes to wireless carriers, Ravenstahl does best with those who use Verizon and Sprint, while doing way better (over 2X) among users of Cricket Wireless. Peduto leads slightly among users of AT&T and huge (almost 3X) among users of T-Mobile (an obvious proxy for age, by the way).

Speaking of phones: Landline households (roughly 70% of our sample) favor Ravenstahl. Non-landline households, on the other hand, are 67% more likely to support Peduto. Keep this in mind when you see any other polling numbers on the race in the coming months.


When asked about their favorite pets, the contrast was striking. Cat people are 20% more likely to support Ravenstahl. Dog people are 20% more likely to support Peduto.

We’ve even profiled voters based on their favorite restaurant from the Big Burrito Group. If you see a city voter at Mad Mex, they’re 42% more likely to support Ravenstahl. Peduto gets huge support from people who prefer Casbah, Soba, Umi, and Kaya. The numbers are pretty split among people who like Eleven.

Lastly, if you’re wondering where you’ll find the candidates’ donors drinking big wines and eating big steaks in the city, it’s easy. Ravenstahl supporters will be at Morton’s, Hyde Park, or Capital Grille. Peduto supporters will be at Ruth’s Chris.

That’s it for now. The data will get a lot richer as we continue tracking the race and we will look at other candidates as appropriate. Keep checking back and let us know if you have any questions.

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