Lee, Mirkarimi, and Gascon win first ranked choice tally

Elections Chief John Arntz takes questions from reporters.
Steven T. Jones

San Francisco’s first run of ranked choice voting tallies for yesterday's election shows Ed Lee winning the mayor’s race (with progressive favorite John Avalos in second), George Gascon remaining district attorney, and Ross Mirkarimi becoming the new sheriff in town.
“Progressive victory, citywide, that’s huge,” Sup. David Campos told Mirkarimi this afternoon outside the Elections Department, where a scrum of journalists and politicos gathered to get the results. It would indeed be a rare citywide victory for progressives, which analyst David Latterman says constitute about 19 percent of the electorate, compared to 39 percent who identify as moderate and 36 percent who call themselves liberals.   
About 7,500 provisional and 24,000-25,000 absentee ballots remain to be counted over the next few days, said Elections Chief John Arntz, telling reporters, “I’m not saying these are the final results by any stretch.” But there is good reason to believe these winners will stick.
In the sheriff’s race, where Mirkarimi faced off against three candidates with long law enforcement backgrounds, David Wong was the first to be eliminated, and the lion’s share of his 9,487 votes went to fellow Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Miyamoto rather than Chris Cunnie, the former head of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, knocking Cunnie out of the race.
Of Wong’ votes, 3,828 went to Miyamoto, 2,637 were exhausted (meaning Wong voters had no second choice), 1,682 went to Mirkarimi, and just 1,325 went to Cunnie, who had been in second place. That gave Mirkarimi almost 40 percent of the vote, compared with 30.7 percent for Miyamoto and 29.8 percent for Cunnie.
On the next round, Cunnie’s 42,877 votes were redistributed as follows: 16,820 to Miyamoto, 14,675 exhausted, and 11,322 to Mirkarimi, giving him 53 percent of the vote. “I’m optimistic, but I’m not declaring victory,” Mirkarimi told reporters. He said that he hopeful that he’ll get the chance to continue the 30-year progressive legacy of retiring Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who endorsed Mirkarimi.
The only real variable in the sheriff’s race is how Cunnie’s second place votes break in the event that incoming ballots change who gets eliminated after Wong, but Mirkarimi said he was happy with how well progressive campaigns did in this election.  
“I want to say how proud I am of the Avalos campaign. It did a good job at getting people out who have felt disenfranchised,” Mirkarimi added.
Indeed, Avalos surprised much of the political establishment by finishing strongly in second place with 18.3 percent of the vote compared to Lee’s 31.5 percent and Dennis Herrera’s 11.3 percent. In the first ranked choice run, it took 11 rounds of eliminations for Lee to break the 50 percent threshold of victory. And when he did, he jumped all the way to 61 percent, mostly because voters who chose Herrera as their third choice exhausted their ballots.
When Herrera was eliminated in Round 10, 18,276 of his 29,717 votes were exhausted, and of the balance, 6,683 went to Avalos and 4,705 went to Lee, where they had been at 28 percent and 49 percent respectively. Avalos then finished second with 39 percent of the vote.
Other notable rounds in the mayoral runoff were when fourth place finisher David Chiu was eliminated and his nearly 20,000 votes broke most heavily in favor of Ed Lee and being exhausted, reinforcing the idea that he draws his support mostly from moderates and is no longer part of the progressive movement that helped elect him to the Board of Supervisors.
Avalos got just 2,376 of Chiu’s second place votes, compared to 5,894 for Lee and 3,832 for Herrera. By contrast, when Leland Yee was eliminated a round earlier, his votes were redistributed fairly evenly among Lee, Chiu, Herrera, and Avalos. Part of the reason that Avalos never gained ground on Lee was that the mayor got more second place votes than his progressive challenger on every elimination between Round 3 and the final round.
In the DA’s race, Gascon’s 42 percent total of first place votes is an insurmountable lead, particularly given that he also did well on the second place votes, showing that attacks on his secrecy and police connections didn’t do much to hurt him. When third place finisher Sharmin Bock was eliminated in the third round, Gascon got 13,301 of her votes, compared with 10,430 for David Onek, and 11,840 exhausted.
The Elections Department will run new totals every day at 4 pm


A trial of the people where you grill them or their surrogates on ideological conformity to the progressive brand. You can appoint yourself judge, jury and executioner.

Posted by guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

Somebody asked what I thought was a legitimate question, I responded with what I thought was an honest response,from my perspective. All you can do is respond with predictable ducking stool tests. !! So17th century. Catch up doofus.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

Seems like the instant runoff concept failed and may leave us with a mayor who got only about 44% of the votes cast, be they 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Perhaps because the elections dept took the easy way out and put only 3 choices on the ballot rather than something closer to the number described in the ordinance.

It seems clear the right thing to do is hold a runoff election.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 11:55 pm

Have the mayor decided by even less of the electorate? No thanks. IRV doesn't always give us the result we want, but that's not the point.

The real travesty here is not that Ed Lee got elected with some 44% of the votes cast. It's that he got elected with 13-14% of the eligible electorate. That's a sign that something is really wrong with our democracy.

I'm for anything that increases participation, and holiday runoffs do just the opposite.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 12:32 am

Same rules for everyone.

If not enough voters were excited enough to go and vote for Avalos, then obviously they didn't want him as Mayor. He got less than 20% of the first picks. If Lee doesn't have a "mandate", then Avalos certainly doesn't.

You lost. Why can't you just accept that? with all this practice at losing elections, you ought to have gotten real good about it by now.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 9:52 am

I can accept Avalos's loss. The poster was just attacking IRV as illegitimate. As you say, that's just the way elections work. And it's much more legitimate than having a tiny voter turnout in a holiday runoff.

Low turnout delegitimizes democracy.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

It doesn't delegitimizes the results, let alone democracy in general.

Ross deserves more credit than that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 6:25 am

Because when there is a low turnout, far more of the voters are wealthy. And that of course has an impact of tending to seat candidates who support their interests.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 10:05 am

You lost.

Your side has schemed up RCV and you lost.

man up, get over it, move on.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 1:14 am

What I don't understand: A bunch of non-progressives are here at the Bay Guardian trying to tell us that Avalos didn't court the center enough. Great. Isn't that a good thing for you? Aren't you happy we lost? I didn't go on RedState.com the day after the election and tell them that McCain didn't appeal to Latinos enough so he lost. Why do you care so much that progressives acknowledge things that you think are true? The truth is your guy won the election, once I acknowledge that (pretty easy to do) what is the point?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

And while I hardly expect any member of the progressive contingent to take my thoughts into account, I actually would be better off just letting them follow the same course.

Ultimately I think it's this - I think a lot of members of the local progressive movement, and this paper in particular, are purposely avoiding the reality that's facing them. At this point, I would say the Guardian doesn't offer an honest view of the political movement they claim to speak for. They offer cheerleading blended with the ironically pretentious position that things would go there way if everyone was just smart enough to get it.

And that, in itself, just fails. And since they seem utterly incapable of recognizing that, a lot of people feel like they have to point it out. Plus, I think there's a lot of quiet anger towards what many people feel is a very loud minority.

But yeah, you're right. I think my time would be better spent letting the obvious trajectory of the city speak for itself.

I'm out. It's been fun.

Posted by Longtime Lurker on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

LL - I have found you a great contributor to the BG over the last week. You are no progressive of course but your analysis is solid and you don't seem to have an irrational hatred for our side (which makes me take you seriously).

I think that progressives have spent 2011 getting used to not controlling the Board for the first time in a decade and 2012 will be key. If you can take the DCCC back or any of 1, 5, or 11 from us we will well and truly know that things have changed and strategies will need to change as well.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

when liberals were in retreat locally and nationally. That s mild guy like Lee can romp home with over 60% is significant - over 60% is generally considered a landslide even under the old rules.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

Not when the guy elected only got 44% of votes from a 33% turnout. (Which is less than 16% of eligible voters.)

To call that a mandate is laughable.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

And it doesn't really matter whether you think Lee has a mandate or not. He's Mayor regardless of how you "feel".

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

I'd certainly argue Prop B doesn't. It barely scraped by.

But at least the sales tax prop was shot down in flames. It needed 2/3 and didn;t even get 50%.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 6:26 am

If he had won 60% on election night, that would have been a mandate.

The main message coming out of that particular election is that, if you keep doing what Hennessey did, protect the rank and file cops, and don't go too soft on crime, we'll accept you.

Which means we will need to publicly encourage Ross to get him to strongly champion progressive values. We can't just sit back and expect him to do it all on his own without an organized public movement behind things like de-incarceration, resisting foreclosures/evictions, and strongly resisting ICE.

His inclination will be to do those things, but he'll need serious public support/demand. We must not make the huge mistake the public made with Obama, in assuming that everything will just be ok now because we elected the right guy.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 10:19 am