By Jessica Williams, The Lens staff writer |
Racial crossover voting and low black voter turnout appear to be the keys to City Councilwoman Stacy Head’s narrow victory Saturday in the election for an at-large seat.
Head, who is white, won far fewer precincts than challenger Cynthia Willard-Lewis, who is black, but the turnout was much higher in the 148 that Head won; Willard-Lewis won 217 precincts.
The website is the brainchild of geographic systems consultant Brian Denzer, who started the advocacy project in 2008 to promote performance management in City Hall, and to improve public access to city data.
Head has expressed support for Denzer’s efforts, and Denzer likewise supported Head’s candidacy. His information and related analysis, however, is neutral, drawn from and based on Secretary of State’s election results.
The map shows much stronger voter turnout in the precincts that voted for Head, particularly in predominately white districts.
The map also shows:
- Willard-Lewis dominated in the predominately black District E in eastern New Orleans, which she represented on the City Council for 10 years. The east also had relatively high turnout compared to other areas of the city, with most precincts reporting 100 voters or more.
- Gentilly also had a relatively high turnout, although voters in that part of the predominately black District D were more likely to split the vote evenly between the two candidates.
- The Lower 9th Ward and Desire-Florida neighborhoods voted overwhelming for Willard-Lewis – but their numbers were under a 100 in each precinct, meaning that overall, they couldn’t beat the 200 or more Head-supporters per precinct that turned out in the Lakeview, Lakeshore-Lake Vista, and West End areas.
- Head’s strongest support came from the predominately white District A and the predominately-black district she’s represented since 2006, District B. District A includes parts of Uptown and the Audubon neighborhood,
and Freret neighborhoods,and District B includes Central City, the Central Business District, and the Garden District. Voters in both districts came out in droves at the polls, with upwards of 100 votes in most precincts.
What’s even more interesting, Denzer said in an interview, is overall turnout in the precincts won by each candidate.
“Stacy Head received an average 26 percent turnout in precincts that she won, compared to 17 percent turnout in precincts that Cynthia Willard-Lewis won,” Denzer said.
He also said that based on his analysis, Head won only eight precincts that were majority black, compared to Willard-Lewis, who won 215 majority-black precincts.
“In a city that is 60 percent African-American…and in a contest which heavily favored Cynthia Willard-Lewis by voters’ racial preferences, the deciding factor was the overwhelming turnout for Stacy Head compared to Cynthia Willard-Lewis — and even then, the vote returns coming in all night showed a very close contest that was ultimately won by only 281 votes,” Denzer said.
The results are not yet official. If Head’s victory holds, she’s expected to take office shortly after the results are certified, likely within the week. The council will then appoint an interim replacement and call a special election to fill her District B seat.