A ballot box in front of an American flag.

Making proclamations about an election when there are upwards of 100,000 votes still to count is akin to building on particularly syrupy quicksand. That said, we can, cautiously, poke around at the preliminary results to learn a thing or two.

With 158,200 votes counted, and at least 104,000 to go, here is what the data says so far.

1. Most voters want a boost to affordable housing, but we may not get it

Some 72 percent of voters supported either Prop. D or Prop. E, two ostensibly similar measures that would both create a new, speedier route to build affordable housing. This backs up a view that multiple polls have confirmed in recent years — that, in general, San Franciscans want more affordable housing and fewer permitting constraints.

But today, Prop. E, backed by the Supervisors, is underwater with 44.6 percent in favor. Prop. D, backed by the mayor, is on a knife’s edge, with 49.6 percent in favor. This is despite the two campaigns having amassed $3.6 million in donations between them.

So why are they failing?

The two propositions were in direct competition, meaning that if both got more than 50 percent, only the proposition with the most votes would win. This encouraged voters to vote for one against the other if they wanted a say in which form of new housing legislation they liked best (and there is plenty of debate over the efficacy of both props).

The upshot is that they have cannibalized each other. Only 16 percent voted for both props. Of those who voted for Prop. D, 34.5 percent also went for Prop. E. Of those who voted for Prop. E, 38.7 percent also went for Prop. D.

Although the majority of precincts went for either D or E, neither is currently set to pass.

Most precincts passed either Prop. D

or Prop. E – but both may fail anyway.

% in favor of E

Mission precincts

Other precincts

100

90

80

70

60

50

40

30

Only precincts in this

lower-left quadrant

did not pass either

of the propositions.

20

10

0

20

30

40

60

70

80

90

100

0

10

50

% in favor of D

Most precincts passed

either Prop. D or E – but

both may fail anyway.

Other precincts

Mission precincts

% in favor of E

80

70

60

50

40

30

20

10

20

30

40

60

70

80

50

% in favor of D

Only precincts in this lower-left quadrant

did not pass either of the propositions.

Based on preliminary Department of Elections data, Nov. 10.

Updated 4:15 p.m. Nov 22. From Department of Elections data.

2. Props I and J confused a chunk of voters

Prop. I was set to reopen JFK Drive to cars, while Prop. J was set to keep it closed to cars. Their goals were polar opposites, and it was only possible for one to pass.

Which makes it odd that some 11,731 voters decided to vote in favor of both propositions, and 13,769 voted against both. This means that upwards of 16 percent of the so-far-counted electorate voted for contradictory measures.

There could be a few reasons for this. As well as reopening JFK Drive, Prop. I included a clause that would “not allow the City to remove the Great Highway between Sloat and Skyline boulevards as proposed” due to erosion. Some voters may have wanted to protect the Great Highway and also wanted JFK to remain closed to cars.

Others may have simply been voting “no” to everything in protest of the proposition overload, and still more may have been confused about exactly what Propositions I or J were all about.

Updated 4:15 p.m. Nov 22. From Department of Elections data.

3. Nobody got everything they wanted

There is cause for celebration, and commiseration, on both the left and moderate sides of the city. Here is how the night shook out for various groups who gave endorsements:

Who got what they wanted this election?

= got the result they wanted

= didn’t get the result they wanted

= inconclusive

A

B

C

D*

E

F

G

H

I

J

L*

M*

N

O

Supervisors

Mayor Breed

SF Democrats

SF Republicans

League of

Pissed Off Voters

Grow SF

SF Chronicle

Examiner

Who got what they

wanted this election?

got the result they wanted

didn’t get the result they wanted

inconclusive

Supervisors

A

B

C

E

D*

N

O

F

G

H

J

I

L*

M*

Mayor Breed

B

E

D*

A

C

H

M*

F

G

I

J

L*

N

O

SF Democrats

D*

A

B

C

E

O

H

F

G

I

L*

J

N

M*

SF Republicans

E

D*

N

A

B

C

F

G

H

I

J

O

L*

M*

League of Pissed

Off Voters

D*

J

C

A

B

E

O

H

F

G

L*

I

M*

N

Grow SF

C

D*

M*

A

B

E

H

F

G

L*

I

J

N

O

SF Chronicle

A

B

C

M*

D*

F

G

E

H

I

J

L*

N

O

SF Examiner

A

H

M*

N

B

C

D*

F

G

E

I

J

L*

O

Based on preliminary Department of Elections data, Nov. 10.

Mayor London Breed had a pretty good election. Her appointed District 6 candidate, Matt Dorsey, and appointed District Attorney, Brooke Jenkins, both seem to have kept their positions, as did her three appointed school board members, and one appointed City College trustee. She got most of what she wanted in terms of ballot propositions, too. But not everything.

The loss of Prop. H, which will move citywide candidate elections to even years, and which Breed called a socialist “power grab,” is significant, as is Prop. C, which will establish a homelessness oversight committee, against her wishes. Both of these propositions currently have roughly two-thirds of voters behind them. If Prop. D fails, that will be another hefty blow.

But left-wing San Franciscans are unlikely to be punching the air either.

District 6 candidate Honey Mahogany has secured only 38.8 percent of the vote so far, putting her around 16 points behind Dorsey. District Attorney candidate John Hamasaki is winning precincts in the Mission and Haight-Ashbury, but Jenkins swept the rest of the city, and is 14 points ahead. And in District 4, incumbent supervisor Gordon Mar is a few points behind moderate challenger Joel Engardio.

The left wing had plenty of apparent wins with propositions, including M (a new tax on vacant residential units) and H (moving citywide elections to even years). However, Props E (the supervisor’s affordable housing measure) and O (a new parcel tax) appear to be sunk.

The propositions that did best seem to be the ones that transcended the city’s left/moderate split. For example, the most popular proposition so far is F, which will see the public library funded for another 25 years. So far, four out of every five voters have voted in favor of the proposition, and the only group we have seen oppose it is the Republican party. The Prop. L sales tax also seems to have passed despite its 66 percent threshold thanks to widespread political support.

4. Your vote was not cheap

This election cycle put a strain on the coffers of many techies and unions, with roughly $14 million raised for various propositions and races.

The mayoral-backed affordable housing measure, Prop. D, raised $2.6 million, the most of any campaign, but has only attracted 73,000 voters so far. This puts their spending-per-vote at around $35 dollars, although this will decrease significantly as more votes are announced.

Votes for Prop. D were, by far, the priciest, but other campaigns have also paid a premium for your support. Votes for Prop. L, the reaffirmed sales tax that needed a supermajority to pass, cost about $15 apiece, while votes for Prop. E, the affordable housing measure backed by the Supervisors, have come in so far at around $14.50 each.

Plenty of campaigns passed their props without much money. For instance, Props A, B, H, G, and N all spent less than $2 per vote, and all are likely to pass. So far, there is little correlation between a proposition’s success and the amount spent on it, likely because less-controversial, easy-to-pass measures did not need to raise as much cash.

An average voter who gave their support to the winner of every citywide race and every proposition would have had a princely $52.88 raised to secure their votes. Again, this total will go down significantly as more votes are counted.

5. Voting blocs have emerged

In the build-up to the election, a few unofficial slates appeared to emerge between some candidates and measures. The San Francisco Chronicle recently pointed out that certain politicians had received lots of funding from common donors, the most strongly correlated of whom were Jenkins, Dorsey and Engardio. Jenkins and Dorsey kicked off their last day of campaigning together and were at the same election party as the votes dropped.

This affiliation seems to have paid off at the ballot box. Precincts that voted for Engardio and Dorsey in their district races also tended to give Jenkins their votes.

In District 4, precincts that favored Engardio for

Supervisor also supported Jenkins for District Attorney.

% votes for Jenkins

80

70

60

50

40

40

50

70

80

60

% votes for Engardio

In District 4, precincts that

favored Engardio for Supe

supported Jenkins for DA too.

% votes for Jenkins

80

70

60

50

40

40

50

60

70

80

% votes for Engardio

Based on preliminary Department of Elections data, Nov. 10.

In District 6, precincts that favored Dorsey for

Supervisor also supported Jenkins for District Attorney.

% votes for Jenkins

70

60

50

40

30

30

40

50

60

70

80

% votes for Dorsey

In District 6, precincts that

favored Dorsey for Supe

supported Jenkins for DA too.

% votes for Jenkins

70

60

50

40

30

30

40

50

60

70

80

% votes for Dorsey

Based on preliminary Department of Elections data, Nov. 10.

We will dive more into the correlations between votes once more votes have come in. The next ballot release is expected at 4 p.m. today on the Department of Elections website.

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DATA REPORTER. Will was born in the UK and studied English at Oxford University. After a few years in publishing, he absconded to the USA where he studied data journalism in New York. Will has strong views on healthcare, the environment, and the Oxford comma.

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3 Comments

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  1. Will: thanks for “absconding” to San Francisco. You’re a strong new reason to pay subscription bucks to MissionLocal. Great analysis!

  2. The biggest takeaway from this election is gerrymandering works. I attended at least 100 hours of the tortuous redistricting process, and after public comment from hundreds of community members, and putting on a show of concern for the Community, 5 of the 9 commissioners did what the Mayor wanted them to do, and what they had planned to do all along. They took large blocks of white wealthy conservative voters from conservative/moderate districts and moved them into districts with progressive supervisors. The voting numbers in the race in D4 clearly show this. Conservative precincts south of Sloat were moved into D4 and this is the sole reason why Mar is trailing Engardio. On Election Map SF https://electionmapsf.com/# you can see that these new voters in D4 voted overwhelmingly for Engardio (around 67-68 percent). Connie Chan in D1 will face the same uphill battle next year because the exact same thing was done to D1 – moving thousands of conservative voters into her district. This is the story of this election.

  3. Interesting that D spent the most money. I did expect it, given the backers, but was surprised because I got far far more E/Anti D mailers and saw only pro E anti D ads on various web based media I frequent.

    Seemed odd to me.