Sorting out a strange election

What the Nov. 6 results mean -- and don't mean

London Breed beat three flawed progressive candidates to win the D5 race.

The way the San Francisco Chronicle pundits put it, Mayor Ed Lee was the clear winner in a grand San Francisco election. "All his measures on the ballot won hands down," noted Willie Brown, the high-paid lawyer and political operative who also functions as a Chron columnist. "It was a great day for Ed Lee," proclaimed columnist C.W. Nevius.

Well, not really.

There are a lot of ways to explain and analyze the inconsistent results of one of the most heavily propagandized elections in recent San Francisco history. But no matter how you look at it, the election was at best a wash for the mayor. Indeed, we'd argue that voters rejected the basic premise of the mayor's political agenda – that tax cuts and favors for big business are the best economic policy – despite record-breaking outside spending selling that agenda and targeting those who stood in its way.

Let's take a look at the real facts:

• Every single initiative backed by the mayor, the ones he's getting credit for – from the City College parcel tax to the housing fund to the business tax – was either a compromise with progressives or a measure that originated on the left. There was nothing the mayor pushed that had any significant progressive opposition; his wins were equally, if not more dramatically, wins for the left.

• Both people the mayor appointed to office were soundly rejected by the voters. Rodrigo Santos, his high-profile appointee to the troubled City College Board of Trustees, spent almost $200,000 and finished a distant sixth. Sup. Christina Olague lost to the candidate Lee had rejected for appointment, London Breed, in a complicated race where the mayor's actual role was unclear (he never withdrew his endorsement of Olague even as his allies trashed her in nasty ways).

• A million-dollar effort funded by some of the mayor's allies to oust Sup. Eric Mar was a spectacular failure, suggested some serious problems in the mayor's political operation, and undermined his emphasis on "civility."

• The voters made clear on every level that they believe higher taxes on the wealthy and closing tax loopholes on big business are the right approach to the economy and to funding government. From Prop. 30 to Prop. 39 to Prop. A to Prop. E, the message was pretty clear: The tax revolt that started in California in 1978 may be winding down, and the notion of making property owners and the wealthy pay for education and public services is no longer a radical idea.

Robert Cruikshank, who writes for the Calitics blog, argues that the November election signals a major sea change in California. "[The] vote to pass Prop 30 -- by a larger margin than most observers expected -- does more than just provide $6 billion of badly needed funding to the state's public school," he wrote. "It brings to a close a 34-year long tax revolt that came very close to destroying California's middle class, locking its low income families into permanent poverty, and left the state on the edge of financial ruin."

That sounds like a progressive message. The agenda put forward by the mayor's closest allies, including right-wing billionaire Ron Conway, who played a heavy-handed role in this election, not only failed to carry the day; the big-money types may have overplayed their hand in a way that will shape the political narratives going forward.


Let's start with the ballot measures (before we get to the huge and confusing mess that was D5).

Proposition A, the parcel tax for City College, didn't come out of the Mayor's Office at all; it came from a City College board whose direction the mayor tried to undermine with the appointment of Santos, a pro-development engineer so conservative that he actually endorsed the Republican opponent of Assembly member Tom Ammiano.


Would he have less power if he'd been elected by less, or more if by more? Either you're the Mayor or you're not.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

I think by that criteria there will be very few landslides, then.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

used is getting 60% or more in the final runoff. the last mayoral election gave Lee just over 60% when all candidates bar Avalos were discarded.

I've seen no evidence that a real runoff would have given a different result - 3 people chose Lee for every 2 that chose Avalos - that massive.

Whether a candidate gets less than 50% of the vote depends on how many are in the field as much as anything.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

it would be if there was some way to filter out your habitual mendacity from this forum. The only positive aspect of it is that your lies are so transparent that it is a good object lesson for how dishonest the "moderates" are.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

other candidates were eliminated had Lee at about 60.2% and Avalos at 39.8%

If you have a cite showing otherwise, please furnish it. But gainsaying me without offering an alternative is weak.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

for engaging in dimwitted mendacity and the basic fingerprint of your nonsense is no doubt obvious enough to everyone, but:

And, by the way, owing to the persistent failure of the elections department to fully implement the instant run-off voting system passed by voters, there were a large number of "exhausted" ballots in the race -- over 50,000. These were almost entirely the ballots of voters who voted for more progressive, and mostly less-machine-connected (at least by perception) candidates such as Dennis Herrerra, Jeff Adachi, David Chiu, and Leland Yee and who *did* *not* vote for Lee.

If you factor in all those ballots as you trog types who persistently denigrate IRV do, Lee won less than 50 percent of the vote. He won fewer votes than did Ross Mirkarimi by every measure.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

Fat difference that makes.

Oh, and your theory that the exhausted votes would have changed the outcome is ridiculous. They would have all had to have fallen to Avalos, but there is zero evidence that they would have fallen any way other than how the non-exhausted votes fell out.

The number 3 and 4 candidiates were for Herrera and Chui, and neither ran a particularly progressive campaign. The simple fact is that Lee won any which way and would have won under any system of voting.

IOW, a Landslide.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

And, yes, I *did* demonstrate why according to basic logic that Lee garnered *far* less than "landslide" support even if ingoring the widespread vote fraud.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

The fact that he ended up with a handful less than that does not make Lee's victory any less emphatic, and therefore doesn't alter my premise one iota.

No voting system could have given victory to a candidiate who was as far short of Lee as Avalos was.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

switched their allegiance from Davis to Olague when the demaning revelations about Davis became public?

That was your biggest doozy of last week.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

You might want to go back and look at the Clean Slate for the election. However, you're right that the Guardian ran a couple of pieces that unofficially endorsed Olague.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

Olague like a syphilitic rash. They couldn't say enough good thigns about her. If that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

The amount of people who read this blog pales in comparison to people voting off the Guardian slate card. Especially with it being D5, I wouldn't be surprised if Olague being on the slate card would have pushed her over the top.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

A few probably do but then they'd probably vote for the left anyway. I doubt many undecided moderates read the SFBG let alone are that influenced by it.

And of course Olague lost despite being endorsed by the SFBG. While in 2010 the mayor and at least two supe races went against the SFBG slate.

If anything, a SFBG endorsement is a net negative for a candidate.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 19, 2012 @ 6:46 am

You just said Olague lost despite being endorsed by the SFBG. She wasn't endorsed by them. That was actually the point of my comment.

Take anecdotal evidence for what its worth (not much I know), but as a 20-something in this town I have a number of friends who are liberal but don't know anything about local politics. They all vote the Guardian slate for local races because they read the Guardian, basically agree with its editorial views on things, and don't follow local politics.

That being said I don't have any proof. A couple additional things I can think of include how the Guardian slate was able to take the DCCC in both 2008 and 2010 and that Campos was the Guardian's number one endorsement in D9 in 2008 and he ended up winning. Of course districts like 5 and 9 are going to be where more people read the Guardian, and therefore more likely to vote the slate, that's why I thought Olague's omission may have made the difference here. I wouldn't say that about a race in D10 for example.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2012 @ 9:22 am

when Davis's true nature was exposed and when Olague voted to bail out the hapless Ross. In the last couple of weeks SFBG shilled desparately for Olague, having previously criticized her for being a Lee/Brown puppet. She lost.

If you only know 20-somethings then you may see some influence from a left-wing organ like SFBG. As Churchill said: "if you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no brain".

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 19, 2012 @ 9:56 am

Plenty to say, but anytime anyone drops that quote its time to bail.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2012 @ 11:04 am
Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 19, 2012 @ 11:56 am

Obviously Lee won over Avalos at the last election by "sizable margin" (quoting lilli), Breed won, Mar won and Olague will never win an election ever after voting in a Domestic Violence Abuser.

Avalos, Campos, Kim; will have an uphill battle in future elections when other candidates will only have to bring up the Mirkarimi reinstatement vote of a DV

The big losers, the SFBG and the Progressives that support Ross!
Credibility has all but disappeared along with integrity and dignity.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:55 am

even while the State and Federal elections moved to the left. It takes a special kind of stupid to lurch right when the rest of the country lurches left, but somehow the SF Progressives managed it.

And that was only partly because Ross, Davis and Olague all self-destructed.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 10:13 am

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