Categories: On Guard

Voter data shows clean sweep for winning candidates

OK San Francisco, a tumultuous local election is a week past now, but indulge me some voting wonkery-nerdery just a bit. Local progressive political consultant Jim Stearns has published his annual voter-map from San Francisco Department of Elections data, breaking down key votes for the Board of Supervisors.

And neighborhood to neighborhood, from the Sunset to the Marina, a clear pattern has emerged:

In key battlegrounds, the winning supervisors won uniformly across their districts.

They swept it.

No, that’s not the usual case, as sometimes slices of districts play against each other. But in these races, Stearns’ maps reveal, the soon-to-be new supervisors enjoyed wide support.

Let’s break down races, district-by-district.

District 4: Sunset, Parkside

Supervisor Gordon Mar won nearly every voting precinct in his district. Only a few slices of the neighborhood supported candidate Jessica Ho, a moderate Democrat backed by Mayor London Breed and outgoing Supervisor Katy Tang, including a particularly wealthy strip of the Parkside neighborhood bordering Stern Grove Park.

Moderate Democrats have largely laid claim to the District 4 seat in the past. Mar is a progressive ally. This was a shocker.

“The fact that Gordon Mar won 85 percent of the precincts in District 4 was astounding to me,” Stearns said. “She was getting votes but he won almost every precinct.”

Though most precincts went to Mar, it was far from a rout: Much of the Sunset’s center and south sides supported him by no more than 35 percent.

Mar’s support grew far higher the closer you got to the water, and to Golden Gate Park. That’s no surprise, either. From election to election, that strip along the beach, in particular, has moved farther and farther left, a trend that some in the political world speculate may reveal an influx of left-leaning San Franciscans displaced from other parts of The City.

District 2: The Marina, Pacific Heights, Laurel Village

While the progressive-moderate divide wasn’t an issue in wealthy District 2, there were still stark differences between Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who like Mar swept her electorate, and candidate Nick Josefowitz, the next runner-up in votes. Stefani has strong neighborhood ties, and nearly every constituent at her electoral party I spoke with talked about a concrete problem in their neighborhood Stefani helped with.

Josefowitz largely ran on a pro-transit platform, eschewing cars and parking while discussing expanding trains and bikeshare. That may be the position of future Marina voters, but for now, it seems voters embraced Stefani’s neighborhood ties over future transit transformation.

Stefani won nearly every District 2 precinct, from the Marina to Laurel Heights, save for one wealthy swath of voters along Broadway and Pacific Streets and precincts in the Presidio. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a fella who dunked roughly $1 million of his own money into the race, the toniest-of-tony voters went to Nick.

“The only place Nick did well was the classic wealth along Pacific,” Stearns noted, “The mansion people. But it seemed the Marina faithful … the areas where neighborhood ties and community and commercial districts really matter, [Stefani] won overwhelmingly.”

District 6: The Tenderloin, South of Market, Mission Bay

Winning Supervisor Matt Haney completely blew his competition out of the water in District 6. He’s on track to beat candidates Christine Johnson and infamous BARFer Sonja Trauss by tens of percentage points. The electoral map reveals voters embraced Haney across the board — save a slice of SoMa near Montgomery Street, and a far west slice of the district near Van Ness Avenue.

Stearns saw that as a repudiation of Yes In My Back Yard-backed candidates, an organization built on Trauss’ leadership that makes a strong splash in headlines across the country and on social media — but failed to resonate with everyday voters.

“No one will be afraid of a YIMBY candidate again, ever,” Stearns said. “It takes more than a Twitter following and that kind of stuff to make an impact.”

District 10: Bayview, Visitacion Valley, Hunters Point, Potrero Hill

Even supervisor candidate Tony Kelly’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, what should be a candidate’s stronghold, went to winning candidate Shamann Walton. Like the other winning candidates this election, he won nearly every precinct, Stearns’ maps show.

“If you’re going to be the white, progressive candidate in D-10 you have to get 70 percent (of the vote) in Potrero Hill” in order to win, Stearns told me.

Kelly barely cracked 50 percent in some Potrero Hill precincts.

Candidate Theo Ellington’s only strong showing was in Hunters Point closest to the water, which makes sense since he lives there. Similarly, Walton performed strongest along Third Street, near his campaign headquarters.

School Board

Stearns’ maps also revealed one interesting tidbit about the race for the Board of Education: candidate Josephine Zhao suffered a staggering citywide loss. You may recall she’s the candidate who once told the Chinese press that transgender bathroom policies in schools would lead to “rape.”

Yeah, she only won three precincts, directly in Chinatown. Otherwise? Zero support for Zhao.

It doesn’t pay to hate. Nor does it pay to lie about it — stories by myself and Mission Local revealed Zhao widely told her supporters, in Chinese, that she only paid lip service to English-speakers in her apologies.

The winning school board candidates, Allison Collins, Gabriela Lopez, and Faauuga Moliga, all performed strongest in neighborhoods that traditionally vote strong for progressive Democrats, including the Mission and the Haight, though Collins enjoyed some broader support in the Richmond District, Presidio and Excelsior.

Some neighborhoods — like the Marina District and parts of SoMa — were less likely to vote for school board at all. I suppose when you send your kids off to Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, or Saint Ignatius, you don’t really give a hoot about public schools.

Stearns speculated that in down-ballot races like school board, where a crowded field makes voter research tough, recommendations from major groups played a huge role.

Winning in progressives areas, “that’s where you see the slate card working,” Stearns said. “They get the Milk Card, the Affordable Housing Alliance card, they see the same names and go for that.”

BART Board of Directors District 8

Last but not least, BART board candidate Janice Li overwhelmingly took the race for outgoing director Josefowitz’s seat. Li, a San Francisco Bicycle Coalition organizer, won the entirety of the Sunset District, most of the Richmond District, North Beach, Chinatown, and down to the south side of San Francisco.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the greatest turnout for Li can be seen in progressive neighborhoods that are known to support bicycling, and neighborhoods like Chinatown where Li specifically reached out to the Chinese community to hear their concerns about BART.

In full disclosure, Li was a client of Stearns’, who designed her candidate sign.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez
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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

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