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Mapping Sawant’s 2019 win shows continued strength of District 3’s political divide

Sawant again performed strongly in the southwest core of District 3

It was a tale of two districts.

To the east and north were the wealthier homeowners of North Capitol Hill, Madrona, Montlake, and Broadmoor, where voters picked the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce-backed Egan Orion.

Meanwhile, in the more densely populated Broadway and Pike/Pine cores and the Central District, residents sided with the re-election of socialist Seattle City Council incumbent Kshama Sawant.

While the path to victory in 2019 included a dramatic shift from Election Night totals, Sawant’s win, in the end, looks extremely familiar.

To Erin Schultz, a consultant that worked on the Orion campaign, the voting distribution of District 3 looks like what Sawant saw in 2015 as she defeated Pamela Banks for the seat.

“The mapped results are similar to results Sawant has gotten in every election, but we were obviously hoping to close the narrow gap, especially after the Primary performance,” Schultz said in an email. She believes that Amazon’s late $1 million contribution turned the election into a “referendum on corporate influence in elections rather than solutions to addressing homelessness, improving affordability, and the many other issues our city is struggling with.”

You can see the Election Night maps compiled by Lubarsky for all the districts here.

This could have led to increased turnout in the most progressive parts like the 10,000 voter strong Broadway area, where Sawant took nearly 2,800 more votes than her competitor, according to an analysis by political consultant Ben Anderstone.

“The biggest narrative here was how unsurprising so many of the results are,” political consultant Ben Anderstone added. “Historically, the areas that Sawant did well in were areas that she did well in in the past.”

Anderstone did note that he thinks these election results show income driving voting patterns a little more, which isn’t surprising given the context of the campaign.

Sawant and her calls for rent control as well as other far-left policies did best in the most dense parts of D3. In the CD, she beat Orion by almost 1,700 votes. She took the Atlantic neighborhood by over 27% and won the 15th Avenue corridor on Capitol Hill by 15%.

On the other hand, the Broadway Business Improvement Area head took places like Madison Valley by almost 60% and Broadmoor by a staggering 95%. But these Orion strongholds simply didn’t have enough voters for the challenger to maintain his Election Night lead.

When CHS visited the Orion campaign office in early November as the team was making its last push to get out the vote, they were focused on reaching voters in North Capitol Hill. That work appeared to pay off with him taking over two-thirds of the vote in that neighborhood.

Orion was able to break Sawant’s Capitol Hill wall by winning one northern precinct with 190 votes compared to the incumbent’s 160.

But another change from 2015 was also at play. The areas of Sawant’s strongest support also coincide with the district’s core of new housing development and population growth. For now, the result appears to be more Sawant-friendly voters. Whether that mix holds as development continues will be part of the story behind future elections.

The Sawant camp, of course, knew its base. The weekend and hours leading up to the Election Night 8 PM deadline brought a heavy presence from Sawant campaigns workers and volunteers as both campaigns waged last minute get out the vote pushes. The first thing thousands of riders exiting onto Broadway from Capitol Hill Station that Tuesday was a table of information and volunteers from the Socialist Alternative campaign imploring passersby to vote for their candidate.

The last few days of the election, the Sawant campaign was in all-day voter outreach mode at Garfield Community Center, Cal Anderson Park, and Judkins Park. Compared to the vocal network that Sawant has built in this city this decade, the challenger was at a vast disadvantage in terms of outreach infrastructure coming out of the primary.

Sawant’s work on issues close to the Socialist Alternative movement also won attention, supporters, and, yes, critics through the summer including a high profile push to save the Showbox, heavy involvement in tenant issues at the Central District’s Chateau Apartments, and an effort to push back on displacement of 12th Ave Ethiopian restaurant, Saba.

Last summer after the council’s more moderate approach to implementing a head tax failed, Sawant pivoted to focus on a “Tax Amazon” movement. Then, with echoes of her long and successful “$15 Now” fight, Sawant made rent control the next big step in the Socialist Alternative movement and the new core in the battles she is waging in Seattle. CHS reported here on her proposed legislation that would tie increased rents to the rate of inflation.

Sawant also repeatedly attacked Orion on housing and homelessness, accusing him of using the same tactics as people who are “peddling Republican talking points.” Sawant focused her response on homelessness on larger issues of housing affordability and social housing, rent control, the expansion of tiny home villages, and the end of sweeps of encampments.

Orion couldn’t make up needed ground. Anderstone pointed to Madrona as one upper middle class neighborhood where Orion did well, but not as well as he needed to for securing the victory. Sawant received 39% there. In one Madrona precinct, Orion won by just 13 votes and more than 250 registered voters stayed home, according to a map created by Zach Lubarsky.

In the map, the darker the green, the wider the margin for Sawant. The lighter the green, the wider the margin for Orion.

Sawant’s numbers did go down from 2015 in the gated residential community of Broadmoor, where she garnered 6% against Banks but only around 2% this year, according to Anderstone’s analysis.

The best barometers for who would win this race, Anderstone says, could be found in the margins of the transitional areas between the younger, renter-heavy parts of Capitol Hill and the Central District and the more single-family home-owning parts of those neighborhoods.

“It’s really kind of those precincts that are on the dividing line,” he said. “You really want to look at neighborhoods where those wealthier, home-owning demographics co-mingle with the younger renter-heavy demographics and where you get a divided mix of the two is where you get your swing precincts.”

Anderstone also noted areas like First Hill with a mix of senior citizens, condominium owners, and renters as having a similar purpose. Sawant won First Hill by a little under 14%.

Another analysis — above —  published by Jason Weill shows the gains won among “late voters” tallied in the counts following Election Night.

Across the city, Anderstone found few hyperlocal surprises, but he compares the Sawant 4% win result to the re-election of Council member Lisa Herbold in West Seattle, where she won by almost a dozen points, despite having similar constituencies. Herbold, according to Anderstone, is less polarizing, she gets a higher level of support from upper middle class voters, and her district is more moderate than D3.

“Candidates in individual races still mattered here,” he said. “Despite the fact that there were definitely seams going on that kind of made this a referendum election on Amazon, on the city council at large, it still mattered who the individual candidates were and what their profiles were and I think that got lost a little bit at times.”


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35 thoughts on “Mapping Sawant’s 2019 win shows continued strength of District 3’s political divide

  1. Interesting how much attention is given to the losing campaign, including a quote full of unsupported-by-the-facts (she “believes”) talking points by a campaign mouthpiece and a mention of a visit to the campaign and their strategy, with no corresponding interviews with, you know, the *actual winner*. Intentionally or not, this is how propaganda works.

  2. Let us not forget her followers did come into apartment buildings with coded entry and posted her fliers on all doors. This being said that usually if it has a code to enter the building that by posting fliers is trespassing even if it’s only one person that allows a person into the building it’s usually prohibited within the the apartment buildings especially if one is a government funded building.

    • The manufactured outrage over canvasing in apartment building is just another mechanism for voter suppression by the right wing. Just another sad attempt to suppress the democratic process any way they can. Ethics complaints were made about this and found to be groundless. Let’s not forget Orion committed ethics violations and was actually fined for it. He’s lucky he got away with a second ethics violation for failing to report paying rent to Ian Eisenberg for his campaign HQ.

      • Now don’t judge a book by its cover I am not a left wing and I’m not the one who has been Cock soliciting in Seattle housing Authority buildings and thrown out many times

  3. That last Sunday before the election, I saw many people along Broadway asking people to vote for Sawant. I don’t recall seeing anyone doing the same for Orion.

    I do recall getting a lot of mailings from both, all of which I put in recycling without much more than a glance.

    • Yea, I agree. Amazon can’t buy human passion for a candidate. Those Sawant supports have passion about her. I don’t get it. I think Orion would have done as much as Swant would do minus the screeching and controversial stuff.

    • I am as anti-Sawant as they come, but I have to admit that she did an amazing job of getting out the vote. When I read, on election day, that the dropbox at SCC was full and overflowing, I knew Orion was in trouble.

  4. I am thinking that it was Sawant, the incumbent, who won the northern precinct to break the pattern. On your map there is one light red precinct, the color the blog used for Sawant, in an otherwise sea of blue. This is the statement in your article that didn’t seem to make sense:”Orion was able to break Sawant’s Capitol Hill wall by winning one northern precinct with 190 votes compared to the incumbent’s 160.” I don’t see that precinct represented anywhere. Also Erin Schultz’s continuing to blame the Amazon money for the loss, doesn’t recognize how much Orion likely benefited from those types of funds in the primary. There is no way to know for sure if he would have been one of the top two in the primary without it. The difference in the two candidate’s ground game, and get-out-the-vote efforts probably made the difference, along with the fact that Sawant has a real following and is well-known and Orion as a person has a smaller base following. Also an increased voter turnout is always likely to favor candidates like Sawant.

    • I don’t know how much of the Amazon money was spent in the primary, but it was only a month or so prior to the general that the bulk of the money was made public. Sawant immediately took advantage of this to tout her anti-Amazon screed. This undoubtedly swayed many fence-sitters to vote for her. I believe the Amazon money made the difference in the election.

  5. Sawant’s mercenaries were electioneering the hell out of Pike/Pine/Broadway on election day. They get away with it because it’s a drop box and not a technically a polling place. I’m just glad they all got a vacation to Seattle in November before heading back to Madison, MSP, etc.

  6. Even if Amazon hadn’t openly tried to buy the Seattle City Council, Egan Orion was STILL the right wing, pro-corporate, anti-worker candidate and DESERVED TO LOSE.

    Orion was the head of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce OPPOSED raising the minimum wage to $15.

    https://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2014/01/broadway-biz-owners-send-message-on-15-minimum-wage-dont-do-it/

    When the City Council approved the Seattle business “head tax” to fund the FOUR-YEAR LONG HOMELESSNESS CRISIS, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce was among those who angrily denounced the head tax. If you know Capitol Hill, you know the impact of homelessness. This modest tax would have saved lives. The CH Chamber of Commerce would prefer the homeless drop dead, outside of city limits of course.

    https://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2017/10/capitol-hill-chamber-puts-out-call-to-action-against-seattle-homelessness-tax/

    There is a class war happening and we know which side the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is on.

    • There is no reasoning with people like you. Taxing JOBS?! Is that a joke. Many of my friends own small businesses and this would kill them. You socialist pieces of **** deserve to get sent to the gulags or deported to a socialist country. Name one place in the world where socialism has succeeded. ONE! A bunch of self aggrandizing, virtue signalling, ideologues.

    • Haha Egan Orion is not left wing he’s a very nice Gentlemen and you guys need to stop name calling because that’s not right he’s not left wing it I’m I so need to get your facts straight before you start name calling

    • Haha Egan Orion is not right wing he’s a very nice Gentlemen and you guys need to stop name calling because that’s not right he’s not left wing it I’m I so need to get your facts straight before you start name calling

  7. I am still waiting for the correction or explanation about which precinct Orion was able to take away from Sawant. Since he had most of Montlake and North Capitol Hill that little spot of red in North Capitol Hill would seem one that Sawant was able to take out of his pattern.
    I am thinking that it was Sawant, the incumbent, who won the northern precinct to break the pattern. On your map there is one light red precinct, the color the blog used for Sawant, in an otherwise sea of blue. This is the statement in your article that didn’t seem to make sense:”Orion was able to break Sawant’s Capitol Hill wall by winning one northern precinct with 190 votes compared to the incumbent’s 160.” I don’t see that precinct represented anywhere.   

    • Now I note, if I click on the red and blue map the pop up lets me know that it is the 2015 map. Now I see that the precinct 43-1826 is the one that change its voting pattern from previously showing a majority voting for Sawant to voting for her opponent in 2019. I wouldn’t really say it is northern precinct, but it is in the northern region of her support. It really is easier to see if you use two different colors.

  8. No one in my building voted for Sawant and we are filing a trespassing suit against her minions. We have them on video entering the building illegally.(they were carrying a box and looked like a delivery.) All of her materials were thrown in the recycling bin. Oh, Sasha, we have some really savvy lawyers(rich).

    • Nice I wish our building did but our video only records for 24 hours and I have a friend that told them he will sue then If they didn’t leave his building

  9. Thanks for the insightful story Jake.

    To all the folks bemoaning about Ms. Sawant’s last minute turn-out efforts, just stop. It’s legal and obviously effective. Our candidate lost, it’s ok, it happens.

    To all the folks whining that Mr. Orion is right wing, just stop. He’s very much a progressive Democratic just not a socialist.

    To all of us, lets put this divisive election behind us and move on with our lives.

    • Well said Brian. I can’t say that I really cared for Orion much, and like most it gives me the creeps when any one big interest (Amazon or union bosses) attempt to buy elections. I have no doubt that Seattle will continue to enact Uber progressive/socialist policies while publicly ignoring the policy solutions that could actually help real people (rent control instead of allowing people to build more and denser housing). It seems like we the people are the frogs slowly boiling ourselves and each election we opt to turn the heat up just a bit more.

  10. Its comments and attitudes like this that swayed many to vote for Sawant so I’d like to sincerely thank you for showing your true colors and helping to elect her. No lower court judge will find in your favor and place limits on LEGAL canvasing activities but by all means file suit and have fun appealing your case for years and spending obscene amounts of money on your nemesis. I’m sure you probably lack the courage of your convictions though.

  11. Sore winners are the worst.
    The problem with most of the Sawant crowd, including their Fearless Leader, is not that they are happy they won, but that they are happy they can now impose their will on the “outs.”
    This has become the worst part of American politics (and other countries, based on the news) – the winners ignore the fact that MOST PEOPLE did not vote for them. They act like their 2% win is a mandate to do whatever the heck they want, and anyone who disagrees is evil.

    • I did not get to vote on big tech taking over Seattle and imposing their will on me. Creating a huge wealth gap, homelessness, increased congestion, and a mass exodus of arts, culture and small businesses.

      You’re right, as a Sawant voter I will not be happy until our new mandates are met on affordable housing, taxing big tech, preventing them from buying future elections and forcing them to be better corporate citizens. I don’t think you’re evil (I don’t believe evil exists really) but we have districts in Seattle and MOST PEOPLE in D3 voted for future Council President Sawant and you need to accept the consequences.

  12. We Americans have given up so much of our power to the politicians because they continue to promise to make us happy.

    Don’t like landlords? We’ll cap rents!
    Don’t like foreigners? We’ll build a wall!
    Made bad financial decisions? We’ll void your student loans!
    Made bad financial decisions? We’ll use taxpayer money to prop up your company!

    Just keep voting for us and you won’t have to be responsible for anything! Free money for the rich! Free money for the poor! If anything goes wrong, it was the other party’s fault!

    I keep looking – like Diogenes, searching Athens for an honest face – for a society where people are taught to be responsible for themselves, and for the society they live in.

    Any suggestions?

    And this anecdote from the life of Diogenes might help people get a little perspective:

    When Alexander the Great met Diogenes, the son of Philip II of Macedon observed the philosopher peering at a pile of bones. When Alexander asked what Diogenes was doing, the Cynic replied, “I am searching for the bones of your father, but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave.”

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