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Election 2018: Counting the votes for Mayor — a lead for Breed, by 498 votes

June 10,2018 07:38

Update, 4:05 p.m., June 9: Last night — a Friday, and the night the Warriors won another championship — a Department of Elections worker could be seen on the city's live-feed, tabulating votes, while sitting, barefoot, on the floor. And, as a result ...

Update, 4:05 p.m., June 9: Last night — a Friday, and the night the Warriors won another championship — a Department of Elections worker could be seen on the city’s live-feed, tabulating votes, while sitting, barefoot, on the floor. And, as a result, we have new numbers on Saturday.
And, if you’re London Breed, they were worth waiting for. After spotting Mark Leno some 1,200 votes on the day of the election, she has caught and passed him to the tune of 498 votes: 94,771 to 94273. That’s 50.13 percent to 49.87 percent.
The Department of Elections crunched 20,060 votes today — 2,700 of which arrived via mail and 20,300 mail ballots dropped off at polling places — and Breed outpolled Leno by 644 votes.
Leno continues to feast on Jane Kim’s second-place votes. Factoring in the 6,513 of her votes that were “exhausted” and did not transfer to anyone, he still picked up 35,872 Kim votes — 67 percent. Breed received 10,693 (20 percent). Breed, however, continues to do well with first-place votes. She garnered 8,862 today, compared to 5,246 for Leno and 6,371 for Kim — marking another day when Leno’s own middling performance mitigated stronger numbers from Kim.
There are still some 42,000 votes remaining to be counted — and that includes around 14,000 provisional ballots. It is expected these will slant heavily toward Kim and Leno, so Breed needs to pad her lead. But, with the margins so tiny, even the slightest aberration from predicted trends could swing the race — and the chance for contentious behavior and lawyers getting invoved increases.
S.F. State’s Jason McDaniel, a political scientist, estimates that Breed will need to break into a four-digit lead to hold off Leno on the provisionals. But, he notes, she is now halfway there.
On the other hand, the winner of this election has already been decided — we’re just counting the votes now. So the appearance of momentum for one side or the other is illusory.
In order to win, McDaniel says, Breed needs another day resembling this one, then has to hope the provisional voting patterns aren’t even more heavily in favor of Kim/Leno than the election day totals were.
In order for Leno to win, he needs the next batch of vote-by-mail ballots to have more first-place votes for him. “He needs 26 or 27 percent as opposed to 22 percent, which is what he got today,” McDaniel says. He also needs to maintain or augment his high percentage of Kim’s seconds; Leno is besting the 67 percent his team felt he needed to get — but simply isn’t getting enough first-place votes. It would be helpful for Leno if remaining batches of votes hail from his stronghold of District 8 — but that’s yet to be determined.
If Breed builds up a lead of 1,000 or more votes before the 14,000-odd provisionals are counted, McDaniel feels it’d be an uphill climb for Leno to make up the difference. “It’d be doable,” the professor says, “but he’d just have to kill on those provisionals.”
Jim Stearns, a Leno consultant, posted data noting that many of today’s ballots hailed from the city’s westside — hardly Leno’s stamping grounds. But, Stearns admits, yesterday’s batch drew disproportionately from Leno’s favored District 8, and he still lost ground.
It appears to be heading down to the 14,000 provisional votes — of which the geographic data is not yet known — and the 6,000 election-day votes at City Hall, which skewed young/renter/other favorable Kim/Leno demographics. If these 20,000 votes don’t break heavily for Leno, Stearns admits, his candidate is in trouble.
Update, 4:10 p.m., June 8: We’ve got new numbers. And with 184,765 votes counted, Mark Leno leads London Breed by a scant 144 votes. The Department of Elections processed 19,807 votes today, and Breed whittled 111 votes off Leno’s lead. Leno currently has 83,667 votes (50.04 percent) to Breed’s 83,523 (49.96 percent).
If you factor in the 5,907 Jane Kim votes that were “exhausted,” then Leno received 67.2 percent of Kim’s votes — which is what put him in the lead and is keeping him in the lead (Breed received 9,269, which is 20 percent). Leno today received 72 percent of Kim’s seconds and Breed got around 19 percent. “These are the kinds of numbers Mark needs to win,” says S.F. State political science professor Jason McDaniel. And yet he lost votes. “This was a very good batch for Jane Kim — but London is increasing her percentage of first-place votes. This is showing Mark’s weakness in first-place votes. He’s been at 24, 25 percent. But London is doing better. Did two percentage points better today than yesterday.”
Kim, who pushed Leno across the finish line in first, is now keeping him from collapsing. Leno’s middling performance today in first-place votes mitigated a strong performance from Kim, and opened him up to a solid performance from Breed. Ominously, our number-cruncher sources placed 3,740 votes today from District 8, Leno’s base of support — and none of the other districts accounted for more than 2,699 votes. This is something of an ominous note for Leno, as is losing ground when Kim performs well.
“It’s like the fourth quarter of a basketball game,” said a local political strategist, “except it’s stretched out over two weeks.”
Some 50,000 vote-by-mail ballots remain to be counted, along with 14,000 provisional votes.
If these trends continue, McDaniel notes, Breed could have a three-figure lead on Leno by the time the provisionals are counted on Monday or Tuesday — unless, of course, a goodly portion of the outstanding votes also hail from District 8. The provisional ballots are expected to slant heavily toward Kim and Leno. This race, McDaniel notes with a nervous laugh, could potentially be decided by 100 or fewer votes. “Maybe it’ll be a tie,” jokes Jim Stearns, a Leno consultant.
“This sample seemed relatively proportional,” said Stearns. “In a pretty balanced sample of 20,000 votes, London climbed a little bit. So it’s going to be a nail-biter.”
We’ll have our next new tally on Saturday at 4 p.m. or thereabouts. Weekends are for the weak, it would seem.
Update, 4:15 p.m., June 7: After processing a mere 4,546 votes yesterday, the Department of Elections on Thursday counted 8,252 more. Yesterday’s votes shaved a mere 25 votes off Mark Leno’s lead over London Breed in the race for mayor. Today was a better one for Breed. Leno’s 1,121-vote lead shrank to a mere 255.  For those counting at home, Leno leads 74,424 to 74,169. That’s 50.09 percent to 49.91 percent.
“This is a pretty big shift,” confirms San Francisco State political science professor Jason McDaniel. “Yesterday, Breed improved by 0.02 percent. Today it’s by 0.31 percent. That’s 10 times better.”
But, McDaniel continued, Breed needs to not just catch up, but likely build a lead if she hopes to wrest the race away from Leno. After today, a shade over 80,000 votes remain to be counted. Of those, 14,000 are provisional ballots. And those, McDaniel says, will likely resemble the election-day votes and skew heavily toward Jane Kim, with her second-place votes going largely to Leno.
Of Kim’s 35,410 transferring votes, Leno received 27,194 and Breed 8,216. If you take into account the 5,413 votes that were exhausted, Leno received 63.4 percent of Kim’s votes, and Breed 22.6 percent. Yesterday, he got 69.2 percent of Kim’s votes, and Breed just 19.2 percent. “That’s the kind of difference Breed needs to win,” says McDaniel. “If this happens again tomorrow, she’ll be in the lead.” Breed today also gained many more first-place votes: 3,274 to Leno’s 1,841.
Department of Elections chief John Arntz has indicated this will be a prolonged counting period. He has unsubtly used plurals like “weeks” and “weekends,” indicating his team will be putting in 18-hour days (any more than that and the machinery may break down). Updates will come at 4 p.m. daily, including weekends. “Most” vote-by-mail ballots will be tabulated before Monday, and the provisional ballots will start to be tallied on Monday or Tuesday at the earliest.
The rule of thumb for San Francisco voting is that the later one votes, the more progressive he or she leans (with provisional ballots being the most left-leaning of all). That will be tested in this election; one new wrinkle is that this is the first contest in which voters could register at City Hall on the very day of the election. So, it’s consequential not just where the ballots counted today (and tomorrow and the next day) come from, but when they were cast.  “I care less about where the outstanding ballots come from than when,” political consultant David Latterman said at today’s SPUR post-election recap. “Somewhere there was an inflection point, where it went from London winning to Mark winning. I’ll bet it’s smack-dab in the middle, so this thing will be razor-thin all the way through.”
And, confirms the Department of Elections’ Gregory Slocum, “these are ballots that we received well in advance of Election Day. Anything we are processing thereafter was received on or after Election Day.”*
But location, location, location does matter. Leno consultant Jim Stearns posted on his Facebook page that “75 percent of the votes tallied today came from districts where Breed did best … only 25 percent of the votes counted today came from precincts where the Kim/Leno vote exceeded 50 percent.” Stearns also noted that Department of Elections data “shows that remaining ballots skew much younger in age (55 percent under the age of 50 vs. 34 percent under the age of 50 for ballots already counted).”
So, those are comforting trends for Leno. But Breed gained many votes today. There are a lot of votes yet to count and very few separating the candidates. Stay tuned.
*Re-reading Slocum’s statement, it appears that we are mistaken: The votes counted yesterday were received on or after election day. Our question was “Do we know when these votes were cast?” His answer was: “The votes that were counted today are VBM ballots that we are continuing to process, the first VBMs to be processed are represented in the initial preliminary report, these are ballots that we received well in advance of Election Day. Anything we are processing thereafter was received on or after Election Day. We are still able to accept and process VBM ballots that we receive through Friday due to CAEC’s E+3 provision (the ballots we accept must be postmarked on or before Election Day).”

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