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Picking apart the D.C. chairman's race

To continue with the number-crunching here on the Big Blog, let's take a look at the race for D.C. Council chairman. Kwame Brown won a resounding victory over prime challenger Vincent Orange, but it was not a sweep. Orange won Ward 3, while running strong in 2 and 5; Brown won 115 precincts by an average of 23 percentage points, Orange the remaining 28 by an average of 8 points.

chairmanbyward.jpg

What does it mean? One theory: The Washington Post endorsement and Orange's attacks on Brown's personal finances might have had more effect in the city's wealthiest wards, 2 and 3. Orange is a Ward 5 resident and represented the area on the council for eight years (though Orange narrowly lost his home precinct, 47.9 percent to 48.5).

More interesting is whether a ballot was cast at all.

As I noted in the not-a-column, more than 9,200 submitted a blank ballot (not counting the absentee and provisional votes). That's 7.5 percent of voters, representing a near-doubling of the "undervote" in 2006.

undervotebyward.jpg

There appears to be a racial divide at work: In Ward 3, which has the city's highest proportion of white voters, 12.4 percent of primary voters chose no chairman candidate -- followed by wards 2, 1, and 6, closely mirroring the city's racial breakdown. Given that the three candidates on the chairman ballot were black, could that be evidence of racism? It appears not: The at-large race, which featured three white candidates, saw a similar percentage of undervotes. White voters, it seems, were simply more likely to vote for mayor and leave the rest of the ballot blank.

Brown's best precincts:

  1. Precinct 113, Senior Wellness Center (West Hillcrest, Ward 7) -- 77.2 percent
  2. Precinct 115, Seventh District Police Station (Garfield Heights, Ward 8) -- 73.5 percent
  3. Precinct 116, New Image Community Baptist Church (Shipley Terrace, Ward 8) -- 72.8 percent
  4. Precinct 140, Anacostia Sr. High School (Anacostia/Fairlawn, Ward 8) -- 70.0 percent
  5. Precinct 111, St. Francis Xavier Church (Twining/Randle Highlands, Ward 7) -- 69.6 percent

Orange's best precincts:

  1. Precinct 12, St. Sophia's Greek Orthodox Cathedral Church (Massachusetts Heights/Cathedral Heights, Ward 3) -- 63.2 percent
  2. Precinct 34, Edmund Burke School (North Cleveland Park/Van Ness, Ward 3) -- 54.8 percent
  3. Precinct 52, St. John's College High School (East Chevy Chase, Ward 4) -- 54.1 percent
  4. Precinct 10, Horace Mann Community Center (Wesley Heights, Ward 3) -- 52.7 percent
  5. Precinct 7, Hardy Recreation Center (Foxhall Village/Senate Heights, Ward 3) -- 52.5 percent

The precincts unhappiest with the front-runners -- that is, the highest number of voters that chose third-place finisher Dorothy Douglas or cast a write-in vote:

  1. Precinct 93, Christ Episcopal Church (Kenilworth, Ward 7) -- 14.1 percent
  2. Precinct 2, The School Without Walls (East Foggy Bottom, Ward 2) -- 13.1 percent
  3. Precinct 94, Merritt Elementary School (Deanwood, Ward 7) -- 12.5 percent
  4. Precinct 143, Chinese Community Church (East End/Penn Quarter, Ward 6) -- 12.3 percent
  5. Precinct 5, Christ Episcopal Church (East Georgetown, Ward 2) -- 10.6 percent

By Mike DeBonis  | September 24, 2010; 3:50 PM ET
Categories:  DCision 2010, Kwame Brown, The District, Vincent Orange  
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Next: Analyzing Phil Mendelson's runaway victory

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