The (Election Day) Agenda: It’s going to be close

Here's where to find results, election-night parties, and last-minute info on how to vote. Plus: Is tech a big factor in the race -- and who is really a progressive, anyway?

Election Day is Tuesday, June 5. All the polls are clear: This is close, and second-place votes are going to determine the winner. I predict that the three major candidates, London Breed, Jane Kim, and Mark Leno, will all wind up with between 20 and 30 percent of the vote, and the margins may be so close that we won’t actually know who the next mayor is until several days after the election, when all of the election-day absentees are counted.

Really — in this race, it’s going to be close

The Department of Elections plans to start posting early results here at about 8:45pm; those will be the traditional vote-by-mail ballots, which tend to be older, somewhat more conservative voters (although that’s changing).

After that, the department will update results on a regular rolling basis about once an hour as new numbers come in. If the past is any guide, most of the ballots will be counted by midnight.

But that’s just the start. There will be tens of thousands of VBM ballots that are dropped off at City Hall or a polling place on Election Day, and each of them has to be certified and counted, which can take three or four days (or more). Elections will release those results at 4pm every day.

During the first and last results release, Elections will also run the ranked-choice-voting program to give us some preliminary idea where the mayor’s race stands.

We will be following the results as they come in and giving you analysis and reporting at 48hills, and live updates on Twitter (@48hills).

Election night parties: London Breed will be at Delancey St., 600 The Embarcadero. Jane Kim will be at the Foundry, 1425 Folsom St. Mark Leno will be at Jane Warner Plaza. You can figure on most parties getting underway by 8:30pm and going on until the last votes are counted.

I will update with any other election-night parties when I find out where they are. Please let me know ([email protected]).

The New York Times surprised me this week with a story saying that the tech industry “is hanging back”in the San Francisco election. There are some fascinating moments in the story:

Mr. Benioff called Mr. Conway “the Koch brothers of San Francisco,” a reference to the siblings who are heavy backers of conservative causes. He added: “That is his prerogative as a citizen of the United States. He feels he’s doing the right thing. He’s a good person. But he doesn’t speak for me or tech.”

And this, which is largely accurate, particularly when it comes to the Mayor’s Office:

“San Francisco, despite its reputation, isn’t especially left wing,” said Ben Tarnoff, a San Francisco historian and editor of Logic, a new magazine focused on deepening the discourse around tech. “Its political leadership is reliably socially liberal, but it has largely governed within the policy parameters set by the real estate and tech industries.”

But overall, reporter David Streitfeld interviewed tech industry leaders, who mostly told him they were too busy or didn’t want to get involved in the mayor’s race.

I disagree. Big Tech is all in on this mayor’s race, with huge amounts of money pouring into superPACs, mostly supporting London Breed and attacking Jane Kim and Mark Leno.

Yeah, the tech folks are trying to hide – Ron Conway even told his allies how to give money that wouldn’t be disclosed until the very end. But Big Tech is by far the dominant force in this town right now, including the selection of the next mayor.

We hear a lot, especially during elections, about “progressive candidates,” and – the Times story above aside – there has been a lot of discussion of how, in the words of Willie Brown, “there’s not a cigarette paper’s worth of difference” between the major candidates.

The SF Public Press just came out with a detailed study that suggests otherwise.

A data-driven analysis by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and in partnership with the Public Press, reveals what many political observers of San Francisco City Hall have been saying for years.

London Breed, president of the Board of Supervisors and candidate for mayor in the June 5 election, is a political moderate, close to the middle, even though she has eschewed that tag. Based on a moderate-to-progressive scale, relative to the city’s generally liberal bent, her closest ideological colleagues are District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee on the progressive side, and appointed District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who is running for election, farther on the moderate scale, though he declines to label himself one.

The Public Press and the UC David researchers looked at more than 400 votes and mayoral actions – in other words, they did what the Chron can’t seem to do, and went beyond what the candidates say and promise and instead looked at their records. Which is a much better indicator of future behavior than any campaign promise.

The Yimby crowd might want to take a look at this June 2 NYT story about Vancouver– a city that has been building highrise housing rapidly and still seeing radical price shocks.

The figures show, however, that unlike other expensive West Coast cities like San Francisco, where the housing supply has long lagged behind population growth, Vancouver has consistently produced new housing. Over the past decade, the housing stock has grown by about 12 percent, while the population has grown by about 9 percent, according to the city.

This disparity has persuaded the city to broaden its measures beyond just a push for new buildings to efforts like the empty homes tax.

“It’s getting out of the mind-set that just more is better,” said Gil Kelley, the city’s general manager of planning, urban design and sustainability

There are plenty of homeowners in Vancouver – as there are in SF – who would be happy to see prices fall. This idea that homeowners want to block new housing to preserve their own property values doesn’t hold up in the polls:

In 2016, the nonprofit Angus Reid Institute in Vancouver found that roughly two-thirds of residents in the metropolitan area wanted home prices to fall, including half of homeowners. More startling was that one in five homeowners in the survey expressed a desire to see home prices fall by 30 percent or more.

Count me in. Some of us just don’t believe that building more market-rate housing is going to bring prices down. And the data from up north suggests we may have a point.

I will repeat my earlier point: This race is very, very close. You can still register on Election Day and cast a provisional ballot. You can vote all day Monday and Tuesday City Hall, you can find out where your precinct polling place is with this handy utility. You can vote for up to three candidates, and it does your first choice no harm to pick a second (and it does you no good to only vote for one).

Low-turnout elections, and this will be one, tend to help those who can get their voters to the polls. Whatever candidate you support, your vote matters. And these days, it’s so easy there’s no excuse not to vote.