For whatever people may say about Ranked Choice Voting, it sure didn’t cut into the power of incumbency.
Even a short-time interim candidate has an enormous advantage as we witnessed with Ed Lee.
His vote pattern for the night was fairly predictable: A huge lead with nearly 40 percent of the early mail in vote, and then a gradual settling to 31 percent (44,451 votes) by the time all the precincts were counted.
The showing of Supervisor John Avalos (26,447/18.7 percent), and City Attorney Dennis Herrera (15,967/1127 percent) were also somewhat predictable. In a Democratic town, both were one and two on the party slate card. A huge advantage and what some wondered was a racist tactic. Five key Asian American candidates, including the interim, and none get named to one of the top two slots?
The real question mark was how the Asian American candidates would do on their own, and it seemed break down by money raised. Boardof Supervisor President David Chiu raised the most money in the least time compared to the other candidates overall. But without the party or incumbency behind him, he managed only a fourth place finish (12,655/8.93 percent).
State Sen. Leland Yee was next with 10,595 votes, or 7.48 percent of the vote, perhaps showing how most of his ardent support in his two-county senate seat may be primarily in San Mateo County.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi was sixth with 9.075 votes or 6.41 percent. Adachi filed his candidacy on the last day and was also tied to a bold but unpopular pension reform proposal that also lost on Tuesday.
Just imagine if Ed Lee had kept his word to David Chiu and not run for Mayor.
Chiu just might be sitting were Lee is right now, leading—but not by a majority.
Instead, the top 6 finishers have 65.5 percent of the vote.
That means that likely the bottom ten with 35 percent of the vote will determine if and when Ed Lee gets the majority he needs.
Lee sits at 31.38. If he’s on slightly more than 19 percent of the second choice ballots of the bottom 10 candidates, he wins. It may be over before we have to count the No.2 choice of Yee at 5th place.
This is either the power of the folly of Ranked Choice Voting. The bottom folks have more power than you think.
Wouldn’t it be better just to have a runoff? More costly, but perhaps more transparent and definitely easier to understand.
RCV makes one wonder, “What the hell happened to my vote?”
Interim Mayor Ed Lee finished the count of first choice ballots with 44, 451 votes or 31.38 percent.
John Avalos was next with 26,447 votes, or 18.67 percent.
Dennis Herrera was third with 15,967 or 11.27 percent.
David Chiu was fourth with 12,655 votes, 8.93 percent.
Only these three have an outside chance of catching Lee who needs 50 percent plus 1.
He better hope he was nice to supporters of the 5th through 10th finishers.
Leland Yee with 10,595 votes or 7.48 percent.
Jeff Adachi, 9,075 votes, or 6.41 percent.
Bevan Dufty, 6704 votes, or 4.73 percent.
Tony Hall, 5,164 votes, or 3.65 percent.
Michela Alioto Pier, 5,063 votes, or 3.57 percent
Joanna Rees, 2,280 votes, or 1.61 percent
These candidates carry the bulk of the also-ran vote. As they get eliminated, their 2nd and 3rd choice ballots get distributed to whomever is designated.
If Ed Lee gets just 19 percent more of those votes he wins and makes history as the city’s first elected Asian American mayor.
This is where the last minute mudslinging might make a difference. Lee got his first place votes, but did all the news of voter fraud and campaign impropriety get him knocked off other candidates’ No.2 or No.3 ballots?
If it did, the trend of the shrinking Ed Lee lead could continue as Avalos, Herrera and possibly Chiu pick up 2nd choice votes.
If no one has a majority, then the registrar starts counting the third choice votes.
Is this really worth not having another election between the top two candidates?
While the elections office listed an 11:30on release of results, it looks as if the new results from the ranked choice balots will be at 4pm on Wednesday.
By then, Lee could have 50 percent plus 1, or not. If he didn’t get enough people to make him their No.2 choice, this could be a long and frustrating count lasting until Friday.
With 59 percent of the votes now counted, Ed Lee’s early big lead has shrunk to just a 17 percentage point lead over his next challenger, Supervisor John Avalos.
Lee had 36,956 vote or 33.28 percent of the vote. Avalos had 18,496 votes or 16.66 percent.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera was third with 12,482 or 11.24 percent of the vote.
As expected, the race tightens with Avalos, the top name on SF Democratic voter pamphlets, picking up steam.
The other premier Asian American candidates, David Chiu, Leland Yee, and Jeff Adachi were still in single digits.
If no one has a majority, the winner will be the candidate who can rack up the most 2nd choice votes.
With the top ten candidates getting over 95 percent of the vote, if Lee is in the No. 2 spot of candidates standing 6th through 10, currently Dufty, Hall, Alioto Pier, and Rees, it could be enough to give him the majority he needs for victory.
Interim Mayor Ed Lee took the big lead in the first release of vote-by-mail ballots in the SF Mayoral race.
Lee got a commanding 26,621 votes or 39.85 percent of the votes counted so far.
Supervisor John Avalos and City Attorney Dennis Herrera are next with 10.6 percent and 10.24 percent, respectively. Both candidates were endorsed by the San Francisco Democratic Party.
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu was in fourth with 8.36 percent.
State Senator Leland Yee was in fifth with 8.25 percent.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi was in sixth with 6.33 percent.
This first tally includes just the vote by mail which represents about 14.59 percent of all voters. The next release of votes at 9:45 will include the first ballots from today’s polling.
Those votes could reflect a totally different voter sentiment in light of voter fraud allegations made against some of Lee’s supporters.
But if the trend continues, Lee would be very close to the 50 percent and 1 vote he needs to secure victory.
The top ten candidates received 97.65 percent.
If no one receives a majority, the Ranked Choice Voting will eliminate the lowest ranking candidate one by one and distribute their backers’ 2nd and 3rd choices until one candidate gets a majority of the vote.
A big conference on Asian American activism is taking place in San Francisco this week.
Ed Lee used to be one of them, an unabashed non-profit good guy. But now his life has changed as the lead dog in the San Francisco mayoral race. He just may not be in the lead for long.
Lee, the interim mayor attempting to make it for real, has been tripped up by some overzealous campaigners on his behalf who may have committed voter fraud.
The now infamous “Ed Heads,” blue shirted members of the San Francisco Neighbors Alliance for Ed Lee for Mayor 2011, had been out in Chinatown the last few weeks setting up tents and helping specifically Cantonese speaking voters.
Tents! Or maybe they were voter cabanas?
How much help the voters got is he issue, and with translated ballots and handbooks, how much help is needed, unless the volunteers really were filling out ballots and telling people how to vote.
Beyond language, there’s the issue of taking a ballots in a plastic bag for delivery to the elections office. These are ballots not pizzas. No delivery allowed.
And then there’s the last big question. How direct is the connection of the volunteers to Lee?
As close as Rose Pak?
The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into this after seven candidates faxed a letter of complaint Sunday to D.C.
I talked to one candidate today who said when he talked with Lee over the weekend, Lee wanted to be on the letter to show a united front.
Makes sense. All major candidates want a fair and ethical election, right? In the spirit of Ranked Choice Voting, that would take the sting out of any appearance of mudslinging and show consensus. Take the politics out of it.
But apparently there was no strong feeling to provide Lee a fig leaf.
Besides, this is just what the other candidates were looking for: Acceptable campaign “mud.”
Ranked Choice Voting makes things a bit to collegial sometimes. Like a parish council. You’re looking for consensus? Boring.
So this was too good for the other candidates to pass up.
A little local October surprise to stop the front-runner in his tracks and help others make up ground.
Lee’s best response so far: Proclaiming it’s “Hammer time”?
With all the possible investigations emerging, Lee is going to have to do much more to regain any momentum.
Otherwise, the voter fraud scandal has done the real heavy lifting for the candidates. Its isolated Lee. And it’s changed the dynamic of race. The cloud of voter fraud may even be enough to keep Lee off voters’ RCV top-three.
If an “anyone but Ed” campaign emerges, then the seven who sent the DOJ letter (especially Leland Yee, David Chiu, Jeff Adachi, Dennis Herrera and John Avalos) have just made this race much tighter than expected.
The No.2 vote will be very important. That means candidates will be on good behavior from here one. They know who they’re No.1 with. Now their goal is to be everyone’s No.2.
As candidates get eliminated, those No.2 ballots will eventually make someone a winner.
But who? Chiu? Yee? Adachi?
This historic race in Asian American history is coming up to an exciting finish.
And the winner will be the best No.2 person around.
Whoever gets the majority of Avalos’ or Herrera’s No.2 votes will be the first elected Asian American mayor.
More on the controversy at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund blog:
This past week, you can tell San Francisco is different from other places. You won’t see a week like this one anywhere else (except maybe Honolulu) when two (of the six) Asian Americans vying for mayor grace the covers of both regional free weeklies.
And it’s not just a strip headline or a sentence teaser, it’s the entire cover.
Calif. State Senator Leland Yee’s the cover boy of the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi fronts the latest SF Weekly.
I’ll have more to say about the articles in sec.
But about those images.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s worth asking why the weekly choose a caricature for Adachi, rather than a normal smiling pol photo like the one the Bay Guardian used for Yee.
Sure, artistic license comes into play. But why risk the danger with caricature when caricature isn’t necessary?
I get it that the Weekly was illustrating how Adachi’s pension reform plan is a gamble. So here’s Jeff pushing “all in” as if in a poker game where the chips are mixed in with icons of the city as if Muni, City Hall, the Pyramid were like Monopoly’s thimble, top hat, and spinning wheel. Cool.
But caricature requires physical exaggeration. And it requires the subject to have some relative fame. In the past, when all the big power held among a homogenous circle, it was no big deal to make fun of public figures’ bulbous noses and hairy eyebrows. And besides, everyone knew what aspects of these figures were worth satirizing.
But in the SF Mayor’s race, when you have an unprecedented amount of diversity (Asian-wise) you’re asking for trouble.
In Washington, D.C. in the late 80s, Regardie’s Magazine got in trouble for depicting then Mayor Marion Barry on it’s cover. The caricature accentuated his big lips.
On SF Weekly’s cover only Adachi’s big head and slicked back hair get exaggerated here, fortunately. The Asian eyes and nose look normal, somewhat realistic to me. No slits, slants, or pug, thank goodness. But again, why risk it? Adachi’s not that famous to warrant the treatment. In fact, show the photo and most would say, “Whodat?” Besides, the caricature has to be more realistic than not so that people will “get it.” So what’s the point? Why not just run a real photo so people will say, “Oh, you mean that guy.”
We are in a unusual time when there are 5 major Asian American candidates for mayor including the incumbent who still isn’t exactly widely recognizable.
Until all the candidates are, photos please.
Now about the articles:
The Weekly’s article frames the race for mayor as a parallel issue to the ballot measure on pension reform.
Adachi, with big backing from billionaire (and former journalist) Michael Moritz, wants to make workers contribute more into their city pensions. It would save the city huge amounts in the short term but it may not be legal, and it could be thrown out in court. So why bother? Could it just a grandstanding play that gins up instant mayoral credibility for Adachi?
The article compares Adachi’s plan with the city’s plan which is being pushed by current Mayor Ed Lee.
Lee’s plan is apparently loved by all the bureaucrats, is very technical, and likely more defensible in court. It just doesn’t go as far to deal with the ongoing issue of unfunded mandates like city pensions. Or at least not far enough for Adachi/Moritz.
Framing the mayoral race in terms of pension reform however is only valuable if you think Jeff Adachi has a real chance at winning.
At this point, it’s likely not, especially if few people recognize the caricature without prompting. Adachi will need a lot of money to fuel a two-headed race for mayor and reform. This may not be his time.
The Bay Guardian’s piece on Leland Yee is a more useful piece because it goes into Yee’s record and his evolution from conservative supe, to corporate legislator, to a hopeful among some progressives for mayor.
Tim Redmond’s piece is comprehensive and mostly fair, but focuses on the writer’s own bias. Like many longtime SFers, he hates what Willie Brown and the Democratic machine did to the city. He hates that it has become a playground to the rich and corporate and so unfriendly to working families and the poor.
As a native SFer, I tend to agree.
By talking to Rose Pak, the Chinatown activist, Redmond touches a nerve. Redmond smartly avoids the dirt Pak has Yee. “She told me a lot of stories and made a lot of allegations that we both knew neither she nor I could ever prove,” the story reports.
I’ve heard the same stories. Vicious, nasty stuff. But I expect it from Pak.
Yee is an outsider to those inside the Chinatown/Willie Brown axis, and it scares them.
Their candidate is Mayor Ed Lee, a close friend of Pak’s and a late addition to the campaign. He had promised not to run. Who talked to him? Brown?
That connection may be the better frame to view the race than pension reform.
Redmond determines Yee to be fairly free of Brown machine taint.
Redmond: “For all his obvious flaws, at least Leland Yee isn’t part of that particular operation. If there’s a better reason to vote for him, I don’t know what is.”
So the two alt-weeklies have begun to frame the campaign.
No mention of David Chiu, or Phil Ting, or Wilma Pang.
Remember it’s Ranked Choice voting.
If you’re Asian and you vote Ed Lee, your second vote isn’t likely to be Yee. It might be Chiu. Unless you don’t want Chiu or Ting, then it may be a Dennis Herrera or John Avalos. But then an Asian may not win at all if it goes to the second ballot.
I think it’s fairly clear no one will get a majority on the first ballot.
That’s why I still think Chiu may be best positioned to win…as a strategic second choice.
The race should also make people legitimately rethink rank-choice voting. It may save money, but it sure turns Democracy into a different game.
Emil Guillermo's commentary on race, politics, diversity…and everything else. It's Emil Amok's Takeout!