Monday Mayor Race Mayhem: What’s Going On?

Here's your CliffsNotes version of what happened with the mayor's race this weekend.

Update, 4:35 p.m.

The Department of Elections reports that approximately 9,000 votes were counted since yesterday’s 4 p.m. report. Of those, 400 are from ballots hand-delivered to City Hall’s drop-off boxes, 600 were cast in City Hall’s voting center, 900 were delivered by voters to polling places citywide, and another 6,400 were delivered to the Department of Elections via the post office. 

The Department is still processing more than 17,000 ballots. Even if they move slowly, chances are we’ll have all ballots counted by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Update, 4 p.m.

Another round of ballots have been counted, and the latest results are in. London Breed has 50.38 percent of the ranked-choice votes, to Mark Leno’s 49.62 percent. They are currently 1,601 votes apart.

The lead wasn’t entirely unexpected. San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee Chair David Campos wrote on his personal Facebook page early this morning that “it doesn’t seem like we are going to have a progressive mayor of San Francisco this time. To say that this is a disappointment is an understatement. It is heartbreaking.”

He later recanted slightly, stating “I recognize that and that while I believe it may be unlikely for the outcome to change, it is still possible for Mark Leno to pull it off.”

Prior to the 4 p.m. announcement, Breed’s campaign sent out a celebratory-but-carefully-worded email to press, noting that she was solidly in the lead.

“It’s clear that we ran a strong campaign citywide. We competed in every district, and we won almost all of them,” said Breed’s campaign manager Maggie Muir. “We ran a strong vote-by-mail effort. We ran a strong Get-Out-the-Vote effort. And, clearly, London Breed was the leading choice for Mayor in neighborhoods all over the city – by a wide margin.”

Rumors that Breed and her staffers oppose ranked-choice voting were reflected in campaign consultant Marjan Philhour’s statement in the same press release. 

“The most important thing now is that every single vote must be counted,” said Philhour. “Debates about the Ranked Choice system can come later; this is the system we had going in, and it’s the system we have coming out. We are pleased to see RCV outcomes, first choice margins, and citywide pluralities converging towards one clear leader, and that leader is London Breed.”

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We hope you were playing outside in the sunshine and at the Haight Ashbury Street Fair all weekend, and not glued to your phone anxiously refreshing the San Francisco Department of Elections website. Either way, a lot went down on Saturday and Sunday. Here’s our recap.

Friday’s 4 p.m. release of ballot numbers took nail-biting to a whole new level, listing Mark Leno only 155 votes in the lead. For those watching the percentages, Leno had 50.04 percent of the ranked-choice votes, to London Breed’s 49.96. Jim Stearns, a campaign strategist for Leno, has been posting helpful updates on his Facebook page analyzing the numbers. Friday’s release, he noted, “drew from areas more favorable to Leno and Jane Kim – approximately 60 percent from Districts 1, 3, 5, 8 and 9,” he noted. 

On Saturday at 4 p.m. Breed finally took back the lead, for the first time since 10:45 p.m. on Election Day. Topping out Leno with 498 votes, the race’s outcome began to shift slightly.  Breed suddenly had 50.13 percent of ranked-choice votes to Mark Leno’s 49.87. But, Stearns noted, the votes counted between Friday and Saturday’s vote came largely from the west side of San Francisco, which generally leans more moderate. Leno fans were hopeful. Perhaps it was a fluke?

Sunday at 4 p.m. revealed it wasn’t. Breed is now ahead by 1,580 votes, a lead which is suddenly looking very hard to beat. She currently has 50.38 percent of the ranked-choice vote, to Mark Leno’s 49.62 percent.

“Okay here’s a (plausible but unlikely) prediction scenario for Leno to win after all remaining ballots are counted,” wrote San Francisco State political science professor Jason McDaniel on Twitter. “Breed does 5 points worse than election day voters, Leno 2 points better, and Jane Kim about 6 points better,” he said.  

But, “I think the above pro-Leno scenario is very unlikely. Given today’s results, I think its very likely that London Breed is the next mayor of San Francisco,” he added.

By 10 a.m. Monday morning neither Breed nor Leno had made a public announcement based on the new numbers. We can imagine they’re holding their breath for 4 p.m., as is the rest of the city.

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