Observations on San Francisco’s November 2008 election, part 1

November 6, 2008

On Wednesday I attended the post-election analysis SPUR hosts after each San Francisco election, and as usual I picked up a couple of interesting pieces of information. Some of them are items that are transitory and likely to change as early as Friday, when San Francisco election officials are scheduled to do their first re-ordering of votes for local offices under the city’s ranked-choice voting system. Nevertheless, I think you’ll find many of them interesting and useful. This is only a taste — more to come in a later post.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over. As of lunchtime Wednesday, the San Francisco Department of Elections still had about 100,000 votes left to count. Even divided by SF’s 11 districts, that’s enough that it could still affect some outcomes, particularly in close district contests where the total number of votes cast is somewhere around 15,000 to 18,000.

Patriotic hipsters? Gabriel Metcalf, director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, summed up the unique quality that the Barack Obama candidacy for president brought to the entire November election season: “Never did I think I would be walking down Valencia Street and hear hipsters singing the national anthem.”

It’s just a jump to the left. According to David Latterman of Fall Line Analytics, some San Francisco supervisor districts have experienced a significant shift, becoming more liberal. Latterman, along with Prof. Richard DeLeon of San Francisco State University, produces the Progressive Voter Index, a measurement on a scale of 0 to 100 of how “progressive” — or liberal — parts of San Francisco are. The PVI is relative only to other neighborhoods in the city and doesn’t measure how progressive areas are in comparison with any areas outside of San Francisco. Latterman says that some neighborhoods, including District 1 and, most notably, District 11, have become significantly more progressive than they were two years ago.

Dems halt slide. According to Latterman, the Democratic Party increased the number of voters registered under its banner by about 2 percent this year. That’s a pretty good bump for the Dems, particularly in light of the fact that they had been steadily losing voters over the past few elections, as more and more people registered as “decline to state” voters.

GOP registration down again. While the Democrats added voters this time, San Francisco Republicans (yes, they do exist) continued to lose registered voters.

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The election’s over — now what?

November 4, 2008

Obama will be the next president of the United States. California Proposition 8 looks to be headed for a win (as of this writing, by about 6 percentage points). San Francisco will have a couple of new supervisors, and a bunch of new laws and policies.

But what does this all mean? Can new officeholders actually do the things they promised in their campaigns? Starting Wednesday, Nov. 5 I’ll analyze selected election results and their potential impacts. Stay tuned.


The grating din of happy children

October 2, 2007

Playgrounds at some San Francisco public schools will be open to the public on weekends under a new program announced Monday.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Unified School District board member Hydra Mendoza met at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School to say that the district would open as many as 14 playgrounds and schoolyards starting in November.

After the mayor’s strange “send me a resignation and then just relax while I think about whether I’ll accept it” demand of department heads and his insistence on turning San Francisco into a crime-camera surveillance society, this is a welcome change.

To be sure, there are many details still to be worked out. But Newsom and school district leaders should be congratulated for seeking to unite neighborhoods with their public schools.

I live close by a Catholic church and school that keeps its yard open on weekends and until about 11 at night. As long as you don’t mind the grating din of happy children (a melodious sound integral to a healthy city), this is a wonderful resource for the neighborhood. There’s always something going on over there, usually with some adult present. Bored kids can get up off the couch, parents can do something with their children, and the resultant back-and-forth foot traffic makes the surrounding streets safer (without cameras).

This isn’t an effect limited to private schools. Before Proposition 13, San Francisco public schools filled the same role. I remember playing in the yard of the school in the neighborhood where I grew up: It was full of kids of all ages on summer afternoons and weekends, with one or two adults supervising in the school gym.

The San Francisco Examiner’s story is here and the Chronicle’s is here.