Update, 12:21 a.m, June 6: We’ve got another ranked-choice voting run and, tentatively, it puts Mark Leno atop London Breed by a 50.42 to 49.58 percent margin. That is not razor thin. It’s thinner than that. How is this happening? It’s happening because Leno received 25,231 of Jane Kim’s 32,807 second-place votes — an astounding 77 percent. Only 1,146 votes separate Breed and Leno.
There is, we are told, screaming and hollering in Mark Leno’s headquarters. And now everyone is off to the bars, where there will be drinking. Those are all the results there are to be had today. But, come 4 p.m. Wednesday, there will be more. All of the late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots, all the provisional votes, everything that didn’t make the cut tonight will be tabulated.
They may all matter.
We got a race, ladies and gentlemen. We got a race.
Update, 10:45 a.m., June 6: With Mark Leno clinging to a not-quite 1,200-vote lead over London Breed, the Department of Elections moments ago announced that potentially 90,000 additional ballots remain to be counted. Yes, that’s a lot.
Those include 44,000 vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at polling places on election day and some 14,000 provisional ballots. Around 3,000 ballots were dropped off at City Hall on election day, and the United States Postal Service is scheduled to deliver 13,000 today. Those provisional ballots won’t even get touched until the weekend — if then — and “most” vote-by-mail ballots will be dealt with by June 10. In other words, this election is still in play, it’s not getting settled today — and if things get closer, it may grow contentious.
Glancing at these numbers, San Francisco State political-science professor Jason McDaniel posits the following thoughts: A. That’s a lotta ballots; B. That’s enough ballots to change the outcome of the election; C. The provisionals will likely resemble election-day patterns, which favor Leno.
“The outcome of this election hinges on whether the distribution of second and third choices on the outstanding vote-by-mail ballots will look enough like the vote-by-mail ballots already counted to erase Leno’s lead,” McDaniel says. “It’s impossible to say at the moment. The margin is close enough that if the distribution is even slightly less pro-Kim/Leno than the election day ballots, then Breed may come out ahead.”
We’ll know more at 4 p.m., when the Department of Elections releases its next tally. But here’s a thought: If the late-voting vote-by-mail ballots resemble election day voters, that favors Mark Leno. But if they resemble the early vote-by-mail trends, that favors London Breed.
Update, 12:35 p.m.: If Mark Leno holds on to win this election, it seems clear he has Jane Kim to thank for dragging him across the finish line.
The progressive standard-bearer not only turned out her people on election day, but the 1-2 message took. An alarming 77 percent of Kim’s second-place votes transferred to Leno — a gaudy percentage that leapt between early vote-by-mail ballots and election-day voting. With all eyes on today’s 4 p.m. update, “Leno is not even a factor in this,” says David Latterman, a campaign consultant who advised on the Breed campaign. “It’s all about Jane and Jane’s seconds.”
And that’s how things shaped up yesterday, too. Per SF State’s Jason McDaniel, Leno’s first-place vote performance dropped between early vote-by-mail ballots and election day voting. “His first-choice electorate was worse. But Kim surged. She increased her vote total by 6,000. It looks pretty clear that those election-day Kim voters followed the direction from the slate campaign. Those voters put Leno over the edge last night. If he wins, it’s because of Kim’s first-place voters. Fascinating.”
A lot can change over the next couple of days. Lawyers are already involved. But Team Leno has to be optimistic about the trends. Later voters — especially provisionals — tend in general to be more left-leaning. And, specifically, they’ve tended to vote for Kim (the same likely goes for the voters who yesterday registered at City Hall). Leno backers credit Kim with not only inducing her voters to go for Leno but “inspiring a different group of people to turn out, who benefited Mark. Jane is the opposite of a spoiler.”
Which prompts the question: What’s in it for Jane? Our calls to Kim have not yet been returned, but her consultant, Eric Jaye, said this was all part of the plan. “I think Jane would have preferred to succeed. But she’s said all along that she proudly made Mark her second choice and asked her voters to do the same,” Jaye says. “Both share the same vision of a city with an independent government elected by voters and the people, not a handful of billionaires.”
“It looks as if based upon these — albeit preliminary — returns, that will be the case.”
Update, 1:59 p.m.: In a press conference at his sign shop, Mark Leno, said he was feeling “encouraged and optimistic” — and, with regard to the pending, protracted period of vote-tallying, “patience shall be rewarded.” But not from his landlord: “The landlord expects us out of our campaign headquarters at Market and Castro by tomorrow evening.”
Leno anticipates an extended counting process; he joked to reporters today that he expected to speaking a lot to them over the course of the next week. He also invited the gathered press to “stick around and see how we make signs, if you want to.” He likely didn’t have any takers. The crowded room was packed tighter than this mayoral race.
Update, 2:30 p.m.: Jane Kim offers a concession: “Right now, it looks very likely that Mark Leno will be elected San Francisco’s next mayor. Out of respect for the ballots still being counted and received, we will wait for a final announcement, but should these returns hold true, I look forward to working with his Administration and I’ve called him and congratulated him on these early results.”
Update, 3:15 p.m.: London Breed spoke for not quite five minutes and took a handful of questions today, an hour before the Department of Elections’ looming 4 p.m. update of the vote count. “Oh God! A lot of cameras here today!” she said with a laugh. “I’m London Breed, president of the Board of Supervisors and also — still — a candidate for mayor.”
She says she will be “watching the vote count very closely” and “we noticed from the returns that not only did I get the majority of first-place votes, I basically won in about nine of 11 districts in this city. As we watch the results pour in, I think that sends a strong message.”
But ranked-choice voting mitigates that accomplishment. When asked if ranked-choice voting is fair, she replied “This is the system we are working with. That’s a discussion we can have at a later time. For now, we’re stuck with it.”
Update, 4:12: We have new numbers. And they only change the results marginally. With 4,546 more votes tabulated, Mark Leno now holds a 1,121-vote lead, down from yesterday’s 1,146. That’s 50.4 percent to 49.6 as opposed to 50.42-49.38.
Of Jane Kim’s 33,775 transferring votes, Breed received 7,786 while Leno got 25,989 — 76.9 percent. Department of Elections boss John Arntz says there are many more ballots left to count, which he feels will take “a couple of weeks.” The vote-by-mail ballots, “70-some thousand” will be processed over the weekend. Provisional ballots will be dealt with on Monday or Tuesday. The votes counted today were ballots received in the mail; tomorrow’s 4 p.m. update will cover some 12,000 remaining mail ballots. Then the department will begin tackling the 44,000 ballots dropped off at polling places on election day. Arntz’s department will work some 18-hour days and weekends; they can’t work 24 hour-days because the machines might wear out. When it’s all said and done, we may crack a 50 percent turnout, which is a hell of a lot for a June primary.
Mission Local reported earlier that Mayor Mark Farrell expected to be in charge until July 10. That is not seeming outlandish at all right now.
“What London needs to see is these votes look more like the vote-by-mail count where Jane Kim got around 18 percent of those votes instead of the 27 percent she got on election night,” says SF State political science professor Jason McDaniel. Crunching the numbers, he sees Kim lost o.01 percent of her vote. “So, that’s nothing. This is very, very small good news for London Breed.” But it’s too small a sample size to begin forecasting any trends.
At the rate Breed picked up those 25 votes, by the way, she would need an additional 224,000 ballots to be processed by the Department of Elections — which far, far exceeds the 90,000 or so uncounted ballots the city estimates are left to count. In other words, Breed gained some votes today, but not at a tenable pace. As more and more ballots come in, however, that pace may quicken. Or it may not. Next update is Thursday at 4 p.m.
SCROLL THROUGH ELECTION DAY COVERAGE
FIRST POSTED JUNE 5, 5:13 P.M.
In, perhaps, the perfect analogy for San Francisco in 2018, voters residing in the heart of the Mission can cast their ballots at Laundré, the sparsely decorated, upscale cafe and laundromat. Tattooed baristas whip up $2.70 cups of coffee and $15 vegan rice bowls a few feet away from voters hunched over in their booths, hacking away at the city’s oversize ballots.
This is a cafe without much in the way of decor. And, today, it was a voting place without much in the way of voters. Polls close today at 8 p.m., but the final haul will, likely, fall well below 45 percent and may not come close to 40 percent. Voters attempting to register in the last minute and cast a ballot at City Hall are facing DMV-like conditions. But observers glancing at the voting rolls at the Martin Luther King Marcus Garvey apartments and Pitts Plaza housing projects — home of thousands of registered voters residing in the heart of London Breed’s District 5 — noted that fewer than 10 people living there had shown up to vote as of late afternoon. For all the money that has been poured into this election, canvassers are not to be seen here – in a community you’d expect to be lousy with them.
Not quite 81,000 mail ballots found their way back to City Hall by June 4 — around a quarter of all registered voters. Experts we spoke with anticipated 40,000 or 50,000 voters would hit the booths today, and perhaps 40,000 more would drop off mail ballots. Of the 81,000-odd votes already accounted for, campaign number-crunchers told us two-thirds hailed from San Franciscans aged 50 or more, a quarter of them are Chinese, and 55 percent own their homes. That’s a pretty moderate-leaning group.
So, as we wrote earlier today, a hell of a lot is riding on how the leading candidates stack up after those early votes are announced. If London Breed only holds a narrow to middling lead over Mark Leno and Jane Kim in the early absentee voting, it figures to be a lengthy and intriguing night, and the precursor to an extended period of nerve-wracking days and weeks. Mayor Mark Farrell is purportedly expecting to stay on in Room 200 into the middle of July; fully tallying all the votes in our ranked-choice system will take a bit of time.
That tally will be revealed tonight at about 8:45 p.m. About two hours after that, the Department of Elections will release an updated total with totals from polling places. A third report will follow adding more election-day totals. And a fourth and final report of the day will come at around midnight, incorporating preliminary ranked-choice voting permutations.
All night long, you can check back on this article for updates. Managing editor Joe Eskenazi will be working the phones and analyzing the data — and not just for the mayoral race, but for all the propositions, the District 8 contest, and whatever else you’ve got. Reporters Lea Fabro, Mallory Newman, Abraham Rodriguez, and Charlotte Silver will be on the town, at election-night parties, City Hall, and anywhere else they need to be. Check out our Twitter feed and Instagram page all night long as well.
Update, 5:20 p.m.: Angela Alioto’s staff told Mission Local’s Mallory Newman that the mayoral aspirant is “currently praying.” Prior to that, she was well-received at John’s Grill and will be at Adeline restaurant tonight, watching as returns come in. Alioto’s son, Joe Alioto Veronese, says he keeps telling his mom that, “the worst-case scenario is that she wins.” That would mean less time for grandchildren and horses and traveling and more time for stepping into a very difficult job. Meanwhile, at City Hall, Abraham Rodriguez says those who waited until today to register and vote are looking at hour-long waits in line — and, per Rodriguez, that’s just “the first line.”
Update, 5:50 p.m.: Department of Elections boss John Arntz appears to have been blindsided by a heavy turnout of City Hall voters. He told Abraham Rodriguez that this is a “presidential”-level turnout. On Election Day 2016, some 5,000 voters cast a ballot at City Hall. Arntz expects to see several thousand do so today. He says lines were nonexistent prior to 1 p.m., but swelled up to amusement park levels in the time since.
This level of turnout does not appear to be translating across the city, however. Voting is still light at polling places and the number of mail ballots dropped off is tens of thousands fewer than during presidential contests.
Rodriguez, himself a day-of-election voter, happily reports the estimated wait time has now dropped to half an hour. YIMBY party volunteers are rewarding patient voters by handing out snacks.
Update, 6:35 p.m.: Mission Local’s Mallory Newman caught up with London Breed on California and Davis Streets. When asked for a prediction, the candidate demurred. “I’m trying not to get caught up in predictions because you just never know. A poll is just a moment a time; it’s just a small sampling and you never know what’s going to happen.” Breed also has no regrets. “At this point, no. You know, it’s politics. It is what it is. I’m just disappointed in a lot of the misinformation and it’s just out there and you can’t control it. It happens to everybody.”
At this point, passersby shouted “You got two votes on Ortega Street! I woulda voted four times if I could.”
Update, 7:27: Melinda Koutouzov has no excuse for waiting until 7:15 p.m. on the day of the election to fill out her ballot other than “I work long hours.” She made sure to vote for Dianne Feinstein for senator, Delaine Eastin for governor and wasn’t sure who she’d choose for mayor. Then the train stopped at Glen Park and she got off to meet her husband, who was also filling out his ballot last-minute.
Update, 7:45: Supervisor Jeff Sheehy’s campaign staffers have pointedly refused to speak to media until polls close, but the famously unscripted candidate decided to talk to Mission Local’s Lea Fabro anyway. Despite being left for dead politically, the Castro supervisor has continued to campaign hard and make a race of it. His political fate will be largely revealed in about an hour, but he can’t begin to venture a guess what will happen. And he won’t talk about his plans if things go poorly. “We’ll see how it goes,” he says calmly.
Meanwhile, Mark Leno cruises by in a convertable, and workers set up for his big, outdoor election-night party at Harvey Milk Plaza. But what manner of party will it be? We’ll see how it goes.
Update, 7:59 p.m.: Polls close in one minute. Volunteers are scrambling to make every last bit of difference. Jane Kim supporter Taylor Ahlgren is doing what he can at the 16th and Mission BART stop. He told Mission Local’s Charlotte Silver “It still feels like people havent’ made up their mind on whether to vote. This is a great opportunity to get tens more votes.”
He says he’s compensated “a slice of pizza every eight hours.”
Update, 8:03 p.m.: Polls are closed at City Hall. Everyone in line now will be able to vote, but there will be no new admits. Mission Local’s Abraham Rodriguez says it took him around an hour to get through the line and vote. He was given no snacks. Alas. The first wave of results should be made public at around 8:45 p.m.
Update, 8:24 p.m.: Zachary Robles, Mark Leno’s field organizer, tells Lea Fabro, “I think it’s going to be very close. But I feel confident. We did everything we could. We put everything on the table. We left nothing to chance.”
Update, 8:45: With his political fate to be decided momentarily, Mark Leno tells Mission Local’s Lea Fabro that he’s “exhilirated” and rates himself as “cautiously optimistic.” This is not an uncommon thing to say on election day, however. Both David Campos and David Chiu said they were “cautiously optimistic” in 2014. Only the latter turned out to be correct.
Update, 8:56: We’ve got initial returns.
This margin is expected to come down with election-day voting; Leno and Kim are both expected to rise (or better, if they hope to compete). Earlier, Leno’s people told us that a 10-point or greater defecit to Breed would induce early evening drinking. The word right now from within the Leno campaign is: “We’re on the bubble. Still possible.”
This is, to put it mildly, not the position Leno and Kim hoped to find themselves in. They are, in the opinion of multiple campaign professionals we spoke with, on the cusp of competitiveness. If the difference between Breed and Leno/Kim is lowered to five-to-eight points in the next tally — which should come out at around 10, per the schedule — then the election is too close to call.
Other races are less competitive.
In the intial returns, Rafael Mandelman is crushing Supervisor Jeff Sheehy among early absentees (again, the most moderate-leaning voters) 59 percent to 39 percent.
All four sitting judges are handily besting their public defender challengers.
And now, the propositions:
Prop. A, the public revenue bond, has 72 percent of the vote. Prop. B, the good-government measure mandating commissioners to step down when they run for office, is clocking 67 percent of the vote.
Props. C and D, the competing revenue measures to bolster early childhood educaiton and homelessness/houseing, respectively, are both failing. Prop. C, which requires 50+1 percent, has 47 percent — so that’s still in play. Prop. D, which requires a two-thirds majority, only has only 46 percent of the vote. It appears dead in the water — but it did serve its purpose of funneling money and publicity to moderate candidates such as Breed, Sheehy, and Ahsha Safai.
Meanwhile, Prop. E, the ban of flavored tobacco that induced dozens of millions of dollars in opposition money from R.J. Reynolds, is cruising to victory with 69 percent of the early vote. So, you know, put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Prop. F, the city-funded legal representation for tenants in eviction cases, is deadlocked. Some 50.3 percent of the voters are in favor. With more young folks and renters voting on election day, its chances may improve.
The same goes for Prop. G, the parcel tax to give teachers a raise, which is clocking around 53 percent of the vote.
Finally, Prop. H, the Police Officers Association’s Taser measure, is losing, 55-45.*
Update, 9:35 p.m.: Mark Leno is still calm, still smiling, and, per Lea Fabro, still “cautiously optimistic.”
Julie Edwards, one of Jane Kim’s strategists, told Charlotte Silver that “Jane always closes strong,” adding that “Jane’s base tends to vote later.” Meanwhile, folks are jubilant at Breed’s party, though the candidate has not yet made an appearance. Rosie Scott, who describes herself as “a distant cousin” of the candidate says “She didn’t have it easy. But I think she’s gonna do it. I think she’ll win.”
Update, 9:50: After the first run-through of ranked-choice voting, London Breed is your nominal winner. This is not binding — there are many more ballots trickling in — but Breed is definitely in the catbird seat. Interestingly, Mark Leno, who came second, received 71 percent of Jane Kim’s second-place votes. That will bear attention as more ballots are counted.
Update, 10:05 p.m.: Mark Leno’s campaign is ecstatic with the 71 percent of Jane Kim’s second-place votes he received in the early absentee ballots. In their modeling, Leno’s campaign determined it needed 67 percent of those votes — but was dubious it could get them. So, 71 percent is described as “fucking fantastic.”
Update, 10:17 p.m.: It bears mentioning that the absentee ballots in which Leno received 71 percent of Kim’s second-place votes were largely cast before the candidates began piling on their 1-2 strategy. That’s good news for Leno. But Breed is still in a strong position, and leftover votes from Alioto did not help Leno as much as some were anticipating.
We have some new numbers for you. With some 44,000 election-day votes to join the roughly 79,000 early absentee ballots, London Breed still leads Leno and Kim: 35.86 percent to 26.26 percent to 21.5 percent. So, Breed’s lead is shrinking but still considerable.
Rafael Mandelman’s lead over Supervisor Jeff Sheehy continues to grow: He’s now up 60 percent to 38 percent. This one looks to be pretty much over.
Meanwhile, while the candidates and their brain trusts are scouring the latest numbers, their parties are rocking on. Charlotte Silver reports Danny Glover is holding it down at Jane Kim’s party. Meanwhile, at London Breed’s event, Mallory Newman watched the front-runner fire up supporters. “I don’t care what neighborhood we come from,” she said, “we can do anything we want to do.”
It’s more somber at Jane Kim’s party. Well, Tom Ammiano is there, notes Charlotte Silver, so it’s still a bit upbeat. Former Supervisor John Avalos, no comedian, said “We are fighting for this room to stay in San Francisco.”
Abe Rodriguez and Lea Fabro, meanwhile, made it to Rafael Mandelman’s fete. Everyone is stoked. Mandelman said “it looks like we’ve won” and thanked Sheehy for a collegial race. Mandelman concluded his speech to supporters by yelling “Go party.” They did.
Update, 10:45 p.m.: The election-day returns are pushing Prop. C (early childhood education tax) closer to a win: It’s now up to 49.4 percent for and 50.6 percent against. Prop. D (housing/homeless tax), which requires a supermajority, remains in the toilet, trailing 55-45. Prop. F (lawyers for evicted tenants) is now up 54-46; Prop. G (parcel tax for teachers) has opened up a 57-42 lead, and Prop. H (Tasers) now trails 59-41. A shocking reversal of fortune there.
The Police Officers Association spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and, months ago, their polling put a Taser measure as a near-certain success. But an ACLU online video of a compliant black man being Tased by cops may have helped sour San Francisco voters: That ad was viewed 50,000 times.
This is a crushing defeat for the POA. Somewhere, Julius Turman is smiling.
Update, 11 p.m.: Everyone is finally showing up to their parties! Jane Kim arrived to chants of her name, reports Charlotte Silver, and is all smiles — despite a precarious position in the polls. London Breed is posing for pictures and the DJ at her party, says Mallory Newman, says he’ll give away concert tickets to the first person who rushes the stage while brandishing an “I Voted” sticker and London swag.
Of course Willie Brown is here. He tells the crowd he’s “looking forward to not just next year but your next nine years.”
Abe Rodriguez says Harvey Milk Plaza is empty, Leno’s staff is devoid of personnel, and “it looks like a rager just happened here.” Most of the staffers want to go blow off some steam at Mandelman’s party just down the road. The outdoor stage is being dismantled and loaded onto a flatbed.
It remains to be seen whether this is merely the end of a party or an allegory for Leno’s political career.
Update, 11:27 p.m. As the candidates dip out of public view, Leno tells Lea Fabro “I do have a path to victory.” It looks like it’ll take days to see if that’s true.
Update, 11:45: I am told the next RCV permutation will be coming in about an hour’s time. After that, we’ll have to wait until 4 p.m. Wednesday for results. London Breed leads Mark Leno by about 15,000 votes — which is a lot. But if Mark Leno continues to pick up second-place votes at or near the 71 percent clip he did in the first run, this will be contested. Either Breed or Leno may, conceiveably, be ahead on the next RCV tally. To be continued. We’re staying up. Join us.
Update, 11:59 a.m.: Scenes from the ends of parties: Jane Kim chokes back tears,Charlotte Silver reports, as her supporters give her a standing ovation. “This is not just a liberal city,” she says. “We have resources.” Lea Fabro watched Mark Leno work the room and then wander up and away from the fray.
As the crowd thins at Café Du Nord,now resembling a night full of regulars rather than an election victory party, many folks made their way out, notes Abe Rodriguez. Rafael Mandelman was enjoying the moment with his staff, hugging it with friends and sipping on a clear colored drink held one hand while embracing friends with another. Mandelman had a chance to talk, saying he wants to focus on solving the homelessness issue in his district and fix “the revolving door” of the current system that shuffles people into jail and back into the streets again.
Meanwhile, at London Breed’s capper, everyone claps along to Prince and drinks, dances, and hugs it out. Mallory Newman notes that more than a thousand people were estimated to have packed into Breed’s election night party at Delancey Street Restaurant. Supporters were in high spirits, as the crowd buzzed around high-profile endorsers such as Senator Scott Weiner, Assemblyman David Chiu, and perennial mayor Willie Brown.
Breed and her staff seemed energized, but some seemed to lose their patience as the hoards of people competed for the candidate’s attention and failed to remain orderly while waiting to take photos. They were chastised by Breed’s spokeswoman.
Supporters were confident that Breed had it in the bag. While partygoers were varied ethnically, several black women mentioned that the candidate’s success meant a lot to them after she had been removed from the acting mayor position months prior.
Up until midnight supporters seemed just as jovial as they did at the start of the night.
Update, 12:21 a.m.: We’ve got another ranked-choice voting run and, tenatively, it puts Mark Leno atop London Breed by a 50.42 to 49.58 margin. That is not razor thin. It’s thinner than that. How is this happening? It’s happening because Leno received 25,231 of Jane Kim’s 32,807 second-place votes — an astounding 77 percent. Only 1,146 votes separate Breed and Leno.
There is, we are told, screaming and hollering in Mark Leno’s headquarters. And now everyone is off to the bars where there will be drinking. Those are all the results there are to be had today. But, come 4 p.m. Wednesday, there will be more. All of the late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots, all the provisional votes, everything that didn’t make the cut tonight will be tabulated.
They may all matter.
We got a race, ladies and gentlemen. We got a race.
*We initially misread the initial returns for Prop. H. It was losing, 55-45, not winning.