In 2012, after the 2nd election of President Obama, I posted he had lost Hill District votes since 2008 and in reviewing Hill District voting data from the Allegheny County Elections Division, the trend of fewer people voting in the Hill District continues. Here is the raw data I’ve been compiling and there are some other interesting things here. The Hill District, as we Black people generally do, overwhelmingly votes for the Democratic Party. This past election the Hill gave Hillary Clinton almost the same % of our vote as we gave Obama in 2012, 92% vs 94%, and 70% of us voted straight Democratic and by this I mean hit the button to autofill the Democratic Party. However, alternative choices have crawled up a bit, and by this I mean Green, Libertarian or write-ins, with this number tripling its very small number since ’08 to go from less than 1% of total ballots cast to about 3% total. I am one of those who can be counted in that number (Green), and, yes, I still feel I made the right decision.
But, the big news is the large drop in registered voters over the last eight years in the Hill District. In 2008, there were 10,507 registered voters, but in 2016 there were just 8,878 registered voters. That is a loss of 1600 registered voters in 8 years. 16%. Not good for Hill District power. How did this show up for Hillary? Well, Obama got 6,071 votes in ’08 and HRC got 4,786 this time. More than 1,200 fewer votes. My guess is that this is the result of all of the public housing that has been removed from the Hill District, but public housing has been taken down all across the city and country. What effect will this have on Black urban power over the next decade.
This is why my wife, Dr. Bonnie Young Laing and others have advocated for Build First anti-displacement policies that make sure people are found housing in the neighborhood before they have to vacate their house so that the housing can be replaced. Democratic President and a Democratic city, but somehow there is weakened electoral power for this community. Is there a neighborhood that has contributed more or been more loyal for the Democratic Party than the Hill District. When those voters come back, who will they be racially, economically, politically. The continued drop in Hill District registered voters represents one of the important indicators, although not the most important, to take away from Election 2016.
I would attribute this to the fact the two Hill District sub-communities have been demolished since 2008: Skyline Terrace (Old Elmore Square) and Bentley Drive. Both would mean was a population decrease of about 500 families who were not all relocated in the Hill. Let’s say each family had 2 voters per household and we can begin to see how these numbers emerge. Also, there’s a huge population of student voters in Oak Hill, who are likely to be registered as Hill voters, but have since graduated. We also have an aging population who are unfortunately dying off and the property they lived in has since become inhabitable (look at the vacant property list). There’s no revolving migration to the Hill. We’re not replacing the population with people who are of voting age. I hope we can change this. Choice Neighborhood presents a good opportunity to increase density.