Note: This is part three of a three-part series I’m publishing looking at the general election results in Ward 4. This post looks at how citywide candidates performed in the Ward. The last post looked at ANC results. The first looked at turnout.
Much analysis has been written already about the major At-Large Council race in our local 2018 general election. You can read the Washington Post’s framing of the At-Large Council race, written by Colby King, here. I considered responding to some conclusions in King’s piece, but that’s beyond the scope of my series here. If you want to debate what the divide really is, I wrote earlier about how the politics of capitalism and white supremacy are leveraged in national and local politics, and how they were being wielded in the At-Large race from the beginning.
So, how did citywide candidates perform in Ward 4 in the 2018 general election?
Let’s look first at the race for Mayor, in which Democratic incumbent Muriel Bowser was challenged only by candidates with extremely limited resources and campaign infrastructure.
Bowser won a total of 78% of the vote in Ward 4, or 24,059 votes out of 31,804 counted when the Board of Elections certified results. Statehood Green candidate Ann Wilcox picked up 10% of the vote, while independent Dustin Canter won 6%. Nearly 4% of voters chose to write in someone else or the phrase RESPECT THE VOTE to protest the Mayor’s support of the Initiative 77 repeal. Another 885 people skipped their vote in the Mayor’s race altogether.
Bowser performed best in precinct 62, where she lives and received 84% of the vote, and precinct 65, in the Lamond-Riggs section, where she received 82%. She performed worst in precinct 49, where she received 70% of the vote, and 47, where she got 72%. Both are along the ward’s southern border with Park View and Columbia Heights.
We might look at those results and say, “Wow! Bowser is pretty popular still in her home ward.” But how popular exactly?
In fact, out of seven election night winners running citywide, Bowser came in sixth in her home ward:
- Attorney General Karl Racine won 29,120 votes, or 95% of Ward 4 voters in his race
- Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton won 27,871 votes, or 89% of Ward 4 voters in her race
- Council Chair Phil Mendelson won 27,568 votes, or 90% of Ward 4 voters in his race
- Shadow Rep Franklin Garcia won 27,415 votes, or 97% of Ward 4 voters in his race
- Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown won 24,710 votes, or 93% of Ward 4 voters in his race
Racine, Norton, Mendelson, Garcia, and Brown all outperformed Bowser in the ward she lives in, represented on the Council, and where her chosen Green Team successor now holds office. In a mayoral race with no major challenger, it appears thousands of Ward 4 voters actively registered a protest vote. Still, she performed better here than any other ward.
In the At-Large Council race, where voters could cast two votes, Councilmember Anita Bonds won 21,872 votes, or 45% of Ward 4 voters in her race. Councilmember Elissa Silverman brought in 12,887 votes, or 27%, while Dionne Reeder won 7,294 votes, or 15%. The only other candidate to register above 5% was Statehood Green’s David Schwartzman, who won 3,844 votes, or 8%.
Bonds’s best precinct was Precinct 60, where she got 54% of the vote. Her worst was Precinct 51, west of the park, where got just 33% of the vote and finished second to Silverman. Silverman’s best precinct was Precinct 51, where she got 40% of the vote. Her worst was Precinct 65, where she won just 16% of the vote. Reeder’s best precinct was 62, where she got 19% of the vote. Her worst precincts were 51 and 49, each delivering just 12% of the vote.
In the Shadow Senate race, incumbent Democrat Michael D. Brown took home 24,710 votes, or 83% of the votes in his race. But his Statehood Green challenger Eleanor Ory grabbed 4,680 votes, for a whopping 15%. That’s as strong of a proportional showing as Reeder, with no news coverage of the Shadow Senate race whatsoever.
Brown’s best precincts were 65 and 60, where he carried 88% of the vote. His worst were 47 and 49, where he got 77% and 78% of the votes, respectively. Ory’s best precincts were 63 and 47, each giving her 20% of the vote. Her worst precinct was 65, where she got just 11% of the vote.
To me, it appears that Ward 4’s electoral map didn’t shift dramatically in 2018. When you line up these precincts with household income, poverty, or racial data, you don’t see signs of any new or exacerbating divide.
Some very wealthy precincts voted for Silverman and Bonds, for example, and some voted for Bonds and Reeder. Same goes for low-income precincts. In places where gentrification pressure is most intense in the southern tier, you can detect some rising dissatisfaction with traditional Democrats in favor of progressives and Statehood Green candidates.
Majority white precincts west of the park went for Silverman and Bonds, while majority black precincts east of the park usually put Bonds first but still chose Silverman second, with only a couple of exceptions for Reeder.
It turns out Ward 4 voters don’t vote cleanly along lines of race, class, income, or ideology, but rather for candidates they’re most familiar with, who show up in their communities, and who they see as championing individual issues they feel passionately about.