Local progressives are in a celebratory mood about last week’s election. They appear to have netted an extra vote on the Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC), and it turns out that – contrary to previous reports – Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris may not have ex officio
seats at the crucial endorsement meeting in August. But Beyond Chron has taken a close look at the unofficial precinct data, and the results should give progressives pause. In District 8, moderate Scott Wiener finished 1,400 votes ahead of progressive Rafael Mandelman – as the two face the same electorate in November. The renters’ financial hardship measure, Proposition F, lost badly citywide – and finished far worse in neighborhoods that are usually pro-tenant. Debra Walker fared well in her run for DCCC, but most of her votes were not in District 6 – and results there suggest that another candidate for Supervisor could make such a race highly competitive.
With control of the Board of Supervisors at stake in November, progressives made a push to keep control of the DCCC. The Department of Elections is still counting votes, but the latest numbers
show that progressive Eric Quezada has kept a lead of 260 votes. What Beyond Chron reported Election Night
still holds – of the 24 elected seats on the DCCC, progressives have netted one more vote.
Control of the DCCC is desirable, because the body votes on the official Democratic Party endorsement in local non-partisan races. At its August meeting, these 24 elected members will meet with a number of Democratic “superdelegates” to make that decision. These ex officio
members include State Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano and Fiona Ma, State Senators Mark Leno and Leland Yee, Congressmembers Nancy Pelosi and Jackie Speier – and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (because she is a statewide elected official and a San Francisco resident.)
Mayor Gavin Newsom and D.A. Kamala Harris have now both won their primaries for statewide office – which arguably makes them Democratic Party officials who live in San Francisco. But the local party by-laws
are vague on whether they have a seat on the DCCC. Democratic nominees for legislative office clearly do (like Tom Ammiano did in 2008) – and if they win their statewide races in November, so will Newsom and Harris. But it’s an open question if they have a seat between now and November – as spelled out in Article II, Sections 1(a)(2) and (3).
Party Chair Aaron Peskin has referred the matter to legal counsel, and we can expect it to be a hotly contested issue between now and the August endorsement meeting. As for the mechanics of the Party endorsement for November, progressive have the upper hand – and last week’s election kept them in control. But the unofficial precinct returns paint a very different picture, and progressives should be concerned about what it all means.
District 8: Mandelman’s Weakness Exposed
The race to succeed Supervisor Bevan Dufty in District 8 is far and away the most competitive
) race this November. It was also the only race with two candidates – one progressive and one moderate – running for DCCC. On Election Night, I wrote that Scott Wiener finished 400 votes ahead
of Rafael Mandelman. But that statistic (which covers half of San Francisco) was not very meaningful – because it didn’t say how the two candidates fared among District 8 voters.
Now we know, and the numbers are even worse for Mandelman. Scott Wiener finished approximately 1,400 votes ahead in District 8 (my vote count shows him at 5,954 to Mandelman’s 4,561.) As a comparison, in December 2002 – the last time District 8 saw a hotly contested race on “moderate v. progressive” lines – Bevan Dufty got 11,000 votes, Eileen Hansen 10,000.
Granted, a lot of voters abstain in DCCC races – so the usefulness of these numbers to handicap what happens in November is limited. And because voters get to pick up to 12 DCCC candidates, many chose both Wiener and Mandelman. But another way to look at these numbers is to gauge each candidate’s “base.” Of all District 8 residents who went to the polls, 48% voted for Scott Wiener – whereas 37% supported Rafael Mandelman.
Mandelman did better in progressive parts of District 8 – and I’ve compared precinct data with the Progressive Voter Index
, a metric that San Francisco politicos use to measure “how progressive” different precincts are based on past elections. In the five most progressive precincts in District 8 – four along the Valencia Corridor, and one in the Lower Haight – Mandelman finished 98 votes ahead of Wiener. But in the five most moderate precincts – four in Diamond Heights, and one on Liberty Hill – Wiener collectively netted 253 extra votes.
Not only did Wiener have a deeper base than Mandelman, but he also had more breadth of support – all across District 8. He finished ahead by 153 votes in Glen Park, a 293-vote lead in Noe Valley, 188 votes in Upper Market and he won The Castro by 376 votes. Again, these numbers only say so much – but it’s clear Mandelman is now the underdog.
Meanwhile, the third candidate in this race – Rebecca Prozan
– did not run for DCCC. She had her campaign kickoff this weekend at the Upper Noe Rec Center, with speeches by Senator Leland Yee and Supervisor Dufty. The turnout was good – but without having been on the June ballot, it will be harder to gauge her support.
Proposition F Loses Badly
Because San Francisco is a renter-majority city, we are accustomed to seeing pro-tenant measures pass – despite landlords and realtors spending heavily to defeat them. So when Proposition F – which would have delayed rent increases when tenants have a financial hardship – was put on the ballot, no one expected to see it lose by a 16-point landslide.
Precinct-level data offers clues as to why it failed. By comparing it with PVI data, Prop F finished far worse than a typical progressive or pro-tenant measure would be expected to do. It only passed in three Supervisor Districts (5, 6 and 9) – losing everywhere else.
District 5 (Haight-Ashbury) and District 9 (Mission-Bernal) are the two most progressive districts – where citywide campaigns always need to rack up huge margins to compensate losing elsewhere. Prop F only passed there with 51 and 52 percent, respectfully. Precinct 3912 surrounds the 24th & Mission BART station, and is the #1 most progressive part of the City – according to the PVI. But voters there approved it by less than a two-thirds margin. The uber-lefty precinct in District 5 where I lived for three years (#3512) gave Prop F a mere 55%.
The only place where Prop F did remarkably well was District 6, where it passed by a 10-point margin. Precincts in the Tenderloin and along Sixth Street – home to low-income SRO tenants – passed it in the 70% range, well above the neighborhood’s PVI score. It also did well in parts of Bayview Hunters Point, but not good enough to pass in District 10. Obviously, poor people supported it. Past elections have shown these folks can swing a Supervisor race
– but there aren’t enough of them in San Francisco to win a citywide contest.
In more gentrified parts, Prop F got creamed. In District 8, it lost 60-40 – and looking at a few precincts was depressing. Precinct #3841 is the 24th Street corridor in Noe Valley, where it lost by 11 points. In another Noe Valley precinct that is only slightly less progressive in most elections (#3855), it lost by two-to-one.
Most of Walker’s Votes Were Not in District 6
It was no surprise that Debra Walker – who’s running for District 6 Supervisor – won re-election to the DCCC. But few expected she would finish in third place, well ahead of both former State Senator Carole Migden and Party Chair Aaron Peskin. Chuck Nevius quoted her
at the SPUR post-election event saying – obviously in jest – that all her votes came from District 6.
Well, nothing could be further from reality. Walker got about 18,000 votes citywide – but unofficial precinct returns show that only 2,363 of them (13%) were the same people she’s counting on in November.
Granted, District 6 always has low turnout – so I focused on just that universe. About 39% of District 6 residents who voted cast a ballot for Debra Walker. While that’s a good start, that only puts her in a slightly better position than Rafael Mandelman. And in the 2006 Supervisor race, Chris Daly finished with over 8,000 votes in District 6.
Walker still did comparatively well in District 6 – coming in third place, like she did citywide. But none of the other DCCC candidates are running for District 6, and had a vested interest in focusing there. She was the top vote-getter in only six of the District’s 59 precincts – four in the Tenderloin, one on Sixth Street and one in SOMA.
In Walker’s best precinct (#3644 in the North Mission – which includes 16th & Valencia), she got about half the people who voted. But that was an aberration for that neighborhood, where progressives always rack up huge margins. Walker actually did better in Tenderloin precincts – 43% – than the North Mission, where she got 40% of the vote overall.
I think the reason, however, has nothing to do with Debra Walker. Prop F was, in general, a bust for progressives. But in one neighborhood where it did well (the Tenderloin), it was a boon – and progressive DCCC candidates like Walker likely benefited from that. This may explain why Walker had a better showing in the Tenderloin than in her own neighborhood – which consistently has a higher PVI score.
And like one would expect from most progressive candidates, Walker did worse in the moderate parts of District 6 – getting 27% of the vote in South Beach and the Ballpark.
After her strong showing last week, the Chronicle’s Chuck Nevius
speculated that Debra Walker is a stronger progressive candidate than many had thought. Before making those assumptions, however, checking her District 6 numbers are more helpful.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Paul Hogarth is a District 6 resident and voter, and in his private capacity has endorsed progressive Jane Kim for Supervisor. He did not consult her campaign in writing this piece, and the theories and conclusions are strictly his own. He wants to thank Jennifer Longley for helping him to better use Excel to read the election results.