Elections often serve as a referendum on the incumbent and I think that is especially true with Tuesday's mayoral primary between Byron Brown and Mickey Kearns.
There are five blocks of voters out there:
Those who are solidly behind Brown because of his track record, racial politics or their jobs depend on his re-election.
Those who are solidly behind Kearns because of his credentials or racial politics.
Those who are solidly against Brown because of of his track record.
Those who are undecided, not keen on Brown but uncertain about Kearns.
Those who don't care, aren't paying attention or think it's all hopeless.
Unfortunately, if Board of Elections officials are to be believed, the "what's the use?" block is far and away the largest. Which is to say, a fraction of voters will choose our next mayor.
That's sad, given what's at stake. Then again, it was even sadder when fewer than one in 10 voters turned out this spring for the School Board elections.
How will the election swing?
There's not a lot of polling data out there. The best we have to go on is a robo-poll commissioned by WGRZ-TV the week before last that showed Kearns had closed the gap with Brown and that the race is a tossup. Perhaps.
More telling was the way Brown consistently attacked Kearns during their debate Friday on Channel 2 and the tone of his advertising the past week.
Standard operating procedure is to be diplomatic if your polls show you're sitting on a big lead in the run-up to an election. You only attack if you're behind or your polls show your lead is too close for comfort.
So, methinks the race is going to be tight. Voter turnout is going to play a crucial role, as it does in any tight race with a modest turnout.
That should play to Brown's advantage, given he's got a stronger organization in place.
Then again, a ticked-off electorate often finds its way to the polls.
Just how unhappy are voters with Brown? We'll find out Tuesday.
(And for you readers who have been predicting for months that The News would endorsement Kearns, no matter what we reporters uncovered, all I can say is '"don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player.")
Rather than wait until Tuesday, I say we get the fun started now with the poll below. One vote per person -- that's how the software is set up.