Analyzing the numbers

The Avalos campaign pulled off a near miracle

I keep looking at the election numbers, trying to make sense of it all, and the more I look and count and add, the more a couple of things become clear:

1. The absentee vote wasn't just about Ed Lee. Clearly, the Lee forces got their troops out and did an absentee drive, but the total absentee votes for mayor (62,446) were about the same as the total votes for district attorney (63,354) and most of the propositions.So the people who voted early voted the entrie ballot.

2. The election-day votes were so dramatically different from the absentees that several factors had to be at work. One of them was the phenomenal campaign for John Avalos, which moblized thousands of people and demonstrated how much of a force progressives can be. Keep in mind -- Avalos, who had no independent expenditure groups and less money than many of the other candidates -- actually came in first on election day. His team worked hard and smart and pulled off a near miracle.

3. The drop-off in support for Lee between the absentees and election day suggests that his popularity was, indeed, declining fast in the past few weeks. The voter fraud scandals had something to do with it, but so did the attacks on Lee by the Herrera and Yee campaigns and by IE groups supporting those two candidates. If Lee hadn't been so far out in front a month ago, he might not have won. As it is, if he holds on, it won't be with the kind of mandate he would like to claim.

When the Department of Elections runs the first pass at ranked-choice voting, we'll get a better idea of how much Lee's support has fallen; RCV won't be such a big deal with the absentees since Lee got so many of those first-place votes. The election-day votes will be more telling; when Adachi, Yee and Chiu are eliminated, where do those seconds go? How many will go to Lee -- and how many will go anywhere but?


1) There's nothing new about progressives doing well "on the day". Matt beat Gavin "on the day". But in this town, we count all the votes. No one vote is any better than any one other vote.

2) Lee support didn't drop off at all. Every opinion poll i saw had Lee at 30%-33% and he came in yesterday at 31%. Your constant claims that his support was dropping proved to be totally wrong.

I'm more shocked that A and B passed, but at least the sales tax prop failed.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

RCV/IRV is gimmicky and could result in an incompetent mayor like Jean Quan (not saying Avalos is like her). I think it sucks.

I'd prefer a straight runoff between Lee and Avalos.

Posted by nzmrmn on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

Uh, get real, Jean Quan is far and beyond more like Ed Lee than Avalos.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

She's more like Baum - clueless and out of her depth.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

Her main idea seems to have been to make the buses free and have them run every ten minutes.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

...between Lee and Yee - or Lee and Herrera - because the big gun funders would have chosen a more centrist left challenger to Lee.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 10:00 pm

Lee started the campaign at 30% and ended the campaign at 31%. Doesn't seem like the last few months changed his numbers at all.

Avalos and Baum were the only progressive candidates in this election, and collectively they received about half the ballots that Tom Ammiano won as a write-in in 1999, and barely a third of what Alioto, Ammiano and Gonzalez won in 2003.

Avalos' showing more accurately demonstrates how weak progressives have become over the past several election cycles.

Avalos deserves credit for running a positive campaign and rallying the progressive base. That got him to 20%. He was assisted by terrible campaign tactics from Yee and Herrera, who focused more on attacking Lee than putting forth a believable vision for how they would govern the city.

Progressives always do better on election day - this is a structural factor that has more to do with the large percentage of moderate voters who are permanent absentee voters than any campaign dynamics.

This was in the bag for Lee from the day he announced. Sorry.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

I disagree that this is because vote by mailers tend to be more moderate. This was once true, and probably still is but with half the electorate voting by mail now the disparity shouldn't be as great as it once was with the sample size being so large. There must be other factors at play besides a tendency of vote by mailers to be more conservative.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

Have to agree with this post almost in its entirely - the reason why Avalos has such a high percentage of votes is that progressives were obviously the most fired up about the election and beating Lee, and yet...

-The the raw numbers (25,000 votes or so out of 160,000 cast and 450,000 registered voters) aren't exactly encouraging.

-80% of voters picked a non-progressive candidate, and even if you throw Yee and Herrera into the mix as "progressives" for shits and giggles, it's still over 60%.

-A better absentee ballot campaign among progressive voters would undoubtedly allow progressive campaigns to focus more on GOTV as Election Day nears, but then you still have to appeal to liberals and moderates to broaden your base and have non-progressives to turn out.

I don't know if the progressive movement is "weaker" per se, but the echo chamber has to stop - if progressives are ever going to win a mayoral race, the candidates have to appeal to the center and center-left voters in this town, period. Avalos simply didn't do that. Maybe he would have in a runoff, but I doubt it (and digress)..

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

sank him. Even if he ends up with 20%, so what? That's nowhere close to winning.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

I'm glad to see Tim saying something about how progressives need to improve their vote by mail organizing (in his other posts, not this one). Its something that progressives hopefully will finally be forced to confront and while talking about "on the day" feels good for those of us who worked hard to get Avalos elected it is really a distraction to think about it that way.

Does anyone have any ideas? For one, the DCCC and the Guardian slate cards don't go out until a few days before election day. I think the biggest hurdle to overcome is that people don't start coming out of the woodwork to walk precincts/phone bank until just a couple weeks until election day. The Avalos office in late Sep. early Oct. was a pretty quiet place relative to a week ago. When everyone starts engaging a week before the election we always get this great feeling of momentum and surging in the polls but it is often not enough for how badly we are outworked in vote by mail. This is understandable, but with the prevalence of vote by mail voters (50% of us now and I'm one) this is not good enough to win elections.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

The question is whether or not the 40,000 votes are John's base or whether there were another 40,000 that could have been turned out. Crying about the timiliness of slates is not going to get the additional voters to the polls on election day or get them to absentee ballot.
I have to believe that two things were needed:
1. Identification of those precincts where John had support and phone banks and canvassers to identify the voters, get them registered and either get them to vote absentee or show up at their polling place on election day. The second and third choice votes are fine, but the key is to get the more votes in the first choice.

2. Finding issues that will excite and mobilize those groups that would support progressive issues would make the connection between those issues and John's campaign to become mayor.

Mayor Lee's campaign people determined what was required to win and executed the strategy.

Posted by Progressives delivering the vote on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

I'd like to answer the above comment to say that in my opinion the votes "on the day" represent the most current information about the candidates and so are in fact "better" votes.

The reason the 'elites' try so hard to get mail in ballots is because not as much information is out there about their candidates as there is by the day of the election, for instance the source of some of the funding or the campaign tactics being used.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

But if you derive comfort from believing otherwise, knock yourself out. It doesn't change the result.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

There is some truth to this, but the reason elites try so hard to bank votes, is because a banked vote is a banked vote. Everyone should be trying to do this. Any vote not banked ahead of time can change its mind. Its not about progressive/conservative elite/grassroots, its about good organizing.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

Another reason I say "on the day" votes are better, higher quality, more reflective of the will of voters, goes back to 2003 when so many mail in ballots had been cast for Gavin Newsom before Matt Gonzalez even declared himself as a candidate for mayor.

If those 'banked votes' could have been re-voted you have to wonder.

It would be interesting if there were a way for a voter to change his mail in ballot before election day based upon new information, like for instance a new, better candidate.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

Might that have something to do with the fact that hipster christ superstar waited until the last minute to throw his name into the race?

ALL VOTES ARE EQUAL. The idea that election day votes are more representative of the "will of the voters" is pure fantasy.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

but his name was on the ballot (including vote by mail) in both the general & runoff

Posted by Steve on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

If you want to ban postal ballots, put a prop on the ballot.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

Who is the elites and how do they keep pulling the wool over everyone's eyes but you?

Three weeks ago Avalos was the same buffoon trying to force his agenda on the world while not liking it being done to him buffoon he was yesterday on election day.

Sour and bitter losers.

Time to scheme up some new voting scheme since rcv doesn't seem to be working out as expected.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

When a liberal doesn't win, IRV is flawed, or there was voter fraud, or the election was "bought", or the public was misled or . . .

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

Obviously not the 'real' matlock, he knows how to 'talk good' and write coherently.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

So true. Ed Lee also waited until the last minute.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

Yes, the polls had him around 30 percent and that's where he came in. But the absentees, which were early votes, had him at 42 percent, and the election-day ballots had him much lower. That may just be the expected mix, but it may also be that Lee was more popular a month ago than he was on election day.

Posted by tim on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

ladies in ChinaTown who voted 1-4 weeks ago would ever have voted for a Hispanic from the West-side.

Your dilemma is that the Left can't win without compromising on key issues. So do you want power or do you want to stay pure?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

Or voted for Leland Yee. Those elderly ladies didn't know Ed Lee from Adam 3 weeks ago. They probably still don't. Their ballots were filled out by campaign workers with the aid of a stencil.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

All of us who are trying to make sense of the numbers are scrambling right now, since the final votes aren't in and we don't have precinct breakdowns or anything. So lighten up on the harshness; I'm posting this stuff as I think of it, and I'm happy to hear other opinions. Quit whining and chip in -- what do YOU think it all means?

Posted by tim on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

Election day votes do matter. It's kind of like a poll. The mail in votes also matter, but they show that Ed Lee had more support starting a month ago, than he did yesterday.

I hope everyone who claimed a month ago that Avalos never had a chance is eating their words right now.

Election Day Votes(not including the absentees)
JOHN AVALOS 19,367 25.9%
ED LEE 17,830 23.8%
DENNIS HERRERA 9,125 12.2%
DAVID CHIU 7,070 9.4%
LELAND YEE 5,081 6.8%
JEFF ADACHI 4,849 6.5%
BEVAN DUFTY 3,860 5.2%
TONY HALL 2,617 3.5%
JOANNA REES 1,215 1.6%
PHIL TING 364 0.5%
WILMA PANG 202 0.3%

74,851 100%

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

Studies have been showing for decades that mail in voters are a different demographic than election day voters.

Stop whining Jesus Christo

Posted by matlock on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

results to be made public - or that the process should stretch on for days and days. Ireland uses RCV and allows way more transfer than three and there you know the results of an election usually within 12 hours or less. The Department of Elections is completely incompetent in this regard. Why does it take them so long to tabulate the results of RCV?

Posted by guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

And Ed Lee is going to be the mayor for the next four years. Almost 62% of the vote to Avalos' 41% after round 1 of RCV.

Avalos had not much more to offer than thin statements like si se puede and whose city? our city! yet he got 41%. Sad.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

As Dave Cruise said, that's just sad. And as Chris Daly sussed it, "Even with RCV, Ed Lee finishes with only 43% of ballots cast. Only 8.5% of San Franciscans marked him 1, 2, or 3! Given the dirty money, voter fraud, and smoke-filled rooms, that's hardly a mandate. Time for progressives to step-up our opposition."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

Play all the statistical games you like. You still lost.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

Just mentioned that Lee was SF's 1st Asian mayor.

Come progressives, what happened to the racialism obsession?

Relax and enjoy, it's someone you claim that is mayor now.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

Typical Redmond comment; he's all for vote suppression when it favors his cause

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

for a decade. His endorsement is usually a guarantee that his pick will lose, and 2011 is no exception.

I wonder if he ever gets sick of being on the losing side.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

It's good to read the articles here, in the bay citizen and in other papers around the bay but there's significant trolling going on, and that really breaks the REAL debate that can occur in the comments, as well as the additional INTERESTING point of views.

Many papers are taking action on trolling all over the place, Europe including. It's very simple. Most of the trolling come from the same people all the time, and most of them from the same IPs. It's time to block those users from polluting the internet comments.

Please help us clear the noise. We badly need it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

Thats a good enough reason for me.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:34 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:50 pm
Posted by guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

anyone who disagrees with you. IOW, you want to visit a site which is censored and which only accepts opinions that are carefully skewed in your direction.

Sorry this place isn't what you seek. Nor is the internet. You clearly need your own planet.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

Agreed, there truly is no need for me to read any opinion that differs from my own. Please block any user who does not tow the SF progressive party line 100%

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

AHAHAH... Man was my post a troll catcher or something. F*** TROLLS.

When you walk into a bar and someone asks you what you do for a living, do you say "I'm a troll". You guys probably don't get laid as much as your Chinese boss.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

Yeah Slick Willie and 'LaFamilia' are back in the driver's seat, instead of being back seat drivers. There was never any real doubt that the fix was firmly in. Congratulations to John Avalos for at least temporarily 'uniting' some of the progressive 'pooh-bahs', and energising a younger, multi cultural crowd. If I understand the 'latest numbers' he is at about 40%?. Pretty damn impressive.
Some things that must hopefully be obvious to 'progressives' are; the importance of absentee/early ballots; reaching across the doctrinaire, idealogical divides and finding common causes; a sustained message between 'selections'; getting folks to vote early or at least get into the booth at the last moment. Some of the obviously non-progressive guests here make valid, thoughtful points, personally I appreciate constructive criticism and rational opposing points of view. Hopefully now the 'selectoral process' is over, the hagfish will sink back to the bottom, and this site can again become a forum for discussion of divergent opinions.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

@LL. As someone who for over 50 years has been about as far left as you can be without completing the circle and becoming aTeaParty troll, you make some observations that I have been trying to disseminate for decades, maybe 'they' will wise up and listen to you.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

You wrote:

"The drop-off in support for Lee between the absentees and election day suggests that his popularity was, indeed, declining fast in the past few weeks....When the Department of Elections runs the first pass at ranked-choice voting, we'll get a better idea of how much Lee's support has fallen; RCV won't be such a big deal with the absentees since Lee got so many of those first-place votes. The election-day votes will be more telling; when Adachi, Yee and Chiu are eliminated, where do those seconds go?"

Well, here's what we learned...When Adachi's votes were redistributed, Herrera picked up the most, followed by Lee, Chiu and Avalos.

When Yee's votes were redistributed, Lee picked up the most, followed by Chiu, Herrera and Avalos.

When Chiu's votes were redistributed, Lee again picked up the most, followed by Herrera and then Avalos.

In other words - there is no sign of a drop-off in Lee support - in fact, he gained strength through RCV.

And, far from there being an "Anyone But Lee" voting intent, it appears that Avalos is the candidate who consistently failed to pick up significant 2nd and 3rd votes through the RCV process.

So much for the progressive revival.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 1:01 am

People either put him first or not at all.

You need broad support to win city-wide. Pandering to just the left is a suicide pact.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 7:42 am

Are you armchair quarterbacks looking at the same election results?

Avalos' votes increased by 35% from ranked choice votes (he gained around 16,000).

Lee's votes increased by 30% (gaining around 20,000).

The difference in gain was only 4,000 votes.

The reason Avalos didn't win is that (as usual) progressives didn't get together well before the election and all agree on a strategy to send a strong and clear message to voters to choose the same two or three key candidates in their rankings.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 9:15 am

Lee's win wasn't about progressive RCV strategy (which was terrible) or "dropping poll numbers" (he got the same number of votes as the polls predicted) or being less popular on election day than a month ago. And there was no sign of an Avalos surge.

In fact, this election played out almost exactly the way the Bay Citizen poll predicted a couple of weeks ago.

You remember that one, Eric? The one you called "bogus" multiple times here, with "too small a sample size" to reflect the nuances of RCV?

Want to take any of that back?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 10:04 am

Of course the Bay Citizen poll was bogus. It reported Avalos -far- below the actual 20% that he got in the first round. The fact that it got the Lee votes pretty much correct is interesting. But the fact that it totally misread Avalos' actual support was telling of how flawed it was.

And as I recall, when many of us were criticizing that poll, one of our main points was that Avalos was doing far better than the poll indicated; especially once it had become a month old and people like you were still absurdly relying on it.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 10:26 am