Remember the jubilation most of us in Sacramento felt on election night when Barrack Obama was declared the winner at about 8:15 pm? Well our Sacramento City Council candidates still have their champagne on ice. When we all went to bed on election night, both races were too close to call. It is a week and a half later and that hasn’t changed.
So, like clockwork, politicos like myself head to the county’s election website and start hitting refresh. Refresh, refresh, refresh. I can only imagine (since I don’t care enough to ask) how much their traffic must spike on update days around 3 pm.
As of the Thursday update, in council District 2 Rob Kerth clings to a 155 vote lead over Allen Warren, while Steve Hansen enjoys a slightly larger 160 vote spread over Joe Yee in District 4. As Steve’s emails and facebook updates consistently remind us, the race is too close to call and we need to count every vote.
But no, this article is not one more in a long line about how close the races are. It is about the breakdown of District 4. Before the process devolved into apportioning the massive number of voters who live at Sacramento Charter High and in the Medical Center, one of the most interesting storylines was bringing The Grid together within a single district, instead of split into three as it had been previously. It was paired with Land Park and River Oaks (ROCA in chart below) in the new district. With most of the voters divided close to evenly between Land Park and The Grid, it was not surprising that each neighborhood sent a strong candidate into the general election.
Most expected the candidates’ home neighborhoods to support them strongly. Some thought the strong reliability of Land Park voters would carry Joe Yee into office. Others thought the fact that The Grid has more voters would get Steve over the top. Many forgot that River Oaks exists.
So, down to the numbers. This is based on the 11/15 update, which includes almost all mail votes, but still has 31,000 provisional ballots outstanding. How did each candidate fare in their home neighborhoods? It turns out, quite similarly.
Both candidates won their home neighborhoods by a score of 57-43. Steve seems to have benefited from the Obama wave and his own extensive turnout operation (which, in the interests of disclosure, I was a volunteer for), as The Grid cast 785 more votes in this race than Land Park, which netted him a 77 vote lead between the two largest neighborhoods. Voters on The Grid certainly benefit from being drawn into an even numbered district, which are perpetually aligned with the higher turnout presidential elections, and could undercut Land Park’s typical advantage in voter turnout.
Most of Steve’s lead, though, was earned in oft-overlooked River Oaks. It only made up 10% of the total vote and was closer than the larger neighborhoods, but Steve’s 4% advantage added 83 votes to his lead. This district is almost certainly going to be highly competitive as long as it maintains this alignment. I think it’s safe to assume, River Oaks will be getting a lot of attention from incumbents and challengers alike.